Fungal communities play a major role as decomposers in the Earth's ecosystems. Their community-level responses to elevated CO2 (eCO2), one of the major global change factors impacting ecosystems, are not well understood. Using 28S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and co-occurrence ecological network approaches, we analyzed the response of soil fungal communities in the BioCON (biodiversity, CO2, and N deposition) experimental site in Minnesota, USA, in which a grassland ecosystem has been exposed to eCO2 for 12 years. Long-term eCO2 did not significantly change the overall fungal community structure and species richness, but significantly increased community evenness and diversity. The relative abundances of 119 operational taxonomic units (OTU; ~27% of the total captured sequences) were changed significantly. Significantly changed OTU under eCO2 were associated with decreased overall relative abundance of Ascomycota, but increased relative abundance of Basidiomycota. Cooccurrence ecological network analysis indicated that eCO2 increased fungal community network complexity, as evidenced by higher intermodular and intramodular connectivity and shorter geodesic distance. In contrast, decreased connections for dominant fungal species were observed in the eCO2 network. Community reassembly of unrelated fungal species into highly connected dense modules was observed. Such changes in the co-occurrence network topology were significantly associated with altered soil and plant properties under eCO2, especially with increased plant biomass and NH4+ availability. This study provided novel insights into how eCO2 shapes soil fungal communities in grassland ecosystems.
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© 2015, American Society for Microbiology.