Dynamics of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae during old field succession

Nancy Collins Johnson, Donald R. Zak, David Tilman, F. L. Pfleger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


The species composition of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungal communities changed during secondary succession of abandoned fields based on a field to forest chronosequence. Twenty-five VAM fungal species were identified. Seven species were clearly early successional and five species were clearly late successional. The total number of VAM fungal species did not increase with successional time, but diversity as measured by the Shannon-Wiener index tended to increase, primarily because the community became more even as a single species, Glomus aggregatum, became less dominant in the older sites. Diversity of the VAM fungal community was positively correlated with soil C and N. The density of VAM fungi, as measured by infectivity and total spore count, first increased with time since abandonment and then decreased in the late successional forest sites. Within 12 abandoned fields, VAM fungal density increased with increasing soil pH, H2O soluble soil C, and root biomass, but was inversely related to extractable soil P and percent cover of non-host plant species. The lower abundance of VAM fungi in the forest sites compared with the field sites agrees with the findings of other workers and corresponds with a shift in the dominant vegetation from herbaceous VAM hosts to woody ectomycorrhizal hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-358
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1991


  • Infectivity
  • Old field succession
  • Spore populations
  • VA-mycorrhizae


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