The microbes contained within free-living organisms can alter host growth, reproduction, and interactions with the environment. In turn, processes occurring at larger scales determine the local biotic and abiotic environment of each host that may affect the diversity and composition of the microbiome community. Here, we examine variation in the diversity and composition of the foliar fungal microbiome in the grass host, Andropogon gerardii, across four mesic prairies in the central United States. Composition of fungal endophyte communities differed among sites and among individuals within a site, but was not consistently affected by experimental manipulation of nutrient supply to hosts (A. gerardii) or herbivore reduction via fencing. In contrast, mean fungal diversity was similar among sites but was limited by total plant biomass at the plot scale. Our work demonstrates that distributed experiments motivated by ecological theory are a powerful tool to unravel the multiscale processes governing microbial community composition and diversity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Program (LTER) including DEB-0620652 and DEB-1234162 and NSF grants DEB-1042132, DEB-1556649, and EF-1241895. Support also was provided by the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute, and the University of Minnesota. This work used data from the Nutrient Network (NutNet; http://www.nutnet.org) experiment.
© 2019 by the Ecological Society of America
- Nutrient Network
- community ecology