Mycorrhizal fungal spore community structure in a manipulated prairie

Jeremiah A. Henning, Evan Weiher, Tali D. Lee, Deborah Freund, Artur Stefanski, Stephen P. Bentivenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Most plant communities support a diverse assemblage of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). AMF communities have the potential to affect plant community structure and vice versa. We examined AMF sporulation in a 4.5-ha reconstructed prairie in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin. In fall 2003, the site was planted with varied numbers and combinations of native prairie species from four functional guilds: C3 grasses/sedges, C4 grasses, legume, and nonleguminous forbs. We hypothesized that more diverse plant seeding mixtures would promote AMF diversity. To examine the interaction between plant and fungal communities, plots were divided and subplots treated with the fungicide chlorothalonil to suppress AMF, enriched with ammonium nitrate fertilizer, treated with both fungicide and nitrogen, or remained untreated (control). Soil samples were collected during the summers of 2004, 2006, and 2007 from each subplot. Spores of AMF were extracted, identified to species, and enumerated. Initial plant seeding diversity did not significantly influence spore abundance, fungal diversity, plant productivity, or plant richness 4 years after establishment. Fungal species richness was positively, but weakly, correlated with plant productivity (r2 = 0.11) and plant richness (r2 = 0.09). Fungal community composition changed significantly over time; nitrogen addition, fungicide application, and site characteristics also shaped community composition. After 4 years of treatment, nitrogen and fungicide reduced AMF richness, changed sporulation patterns among AMF taxa, and reduced diversity and productivity in plant communities. Divergence in AMF community is being mirrored by changes in the plant community independent of initial seeding treatments, though causation could not be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-133
Number of pages10
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank D. Badtke, S. Loehr, and A. Richards for assistance with sample processing and data collection. We thank J. Bever and the Bever-Schultz lab group for helpful comments and analysis assistance. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant no. DEB-0415479) and the U.W. Oshkosh Faculty Development Board (grant no. R379).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Society for Ecological Restoration


  • arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • elevated nitrogen
  • plant diversity
  • prairie restoration
  • spore communities


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