Molecular methodologies were used to investigate fungal assemblages of biological soil crusts (BSCs) from arid lands in the southwestern United States. Fungal diversity of BSCs was assessed in a broad survey that included the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts as well as the Colorado Plateau. At selected sites samples were collected along kilometerscale transects, and fungal community diversity and composition were assessed based on community rRNA gene fingerprinting using PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Individual phylotypes were characterized through band sequencing. The results indicate that a considerable diversity of fungi is present within crusted soils, with higher diversity being recovered from more successionally mature BSCs. The overwhelming majority of crust fungi belong to the Ascomycota, with the Pleosporales being widespread and frequently dominant. Beta diversity patterns of phylotypes putatively representing dominant members of BSC fungal communities suggest that these assemblages are specific to their respective geographic regions of origin.
- Arid lands
- Biological soil crusts