Soil Fungal Communities Respond to Grassland Plant Community Richness and Soil Edaphics

Nicholas LeBlanc, Linda L. Kinkel, H. Corby Kistler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Fungal communities in soil have significant influences on terrestrial ecosystem dynamics, yet our understanding of the drivers of fungal diversity and community structure in soil is limited. Fungal communities associated with the rhizosphere of four native perennial grassland plant species, two legumes and two grasses, grown in monoculture and polyculture in a long-term field experiment were characterized. Reference databases were developed for, and amplicon libraries sequenced from, multiple-copy rRNA and single-copy protein-coding loci. Clustering and alignment-based pipelines were utilized to evaluate differences in fungal community structure and diversity in response to plant host, plant community richness, and soil edaphics. Fungal diversity increased in the rhizosphere of plants growing in polyculture plant communities as compared to monoculture plant communities. Fungal community structure was differentiated between legumes and grasses growing in monoculture but not in polyculture. To specifically monitor fungi in the genus Fusarium in the soil, the protein-coding locus was used to increase phylogenetic resolution and enrich for this taxon. These data show that fungal community richness and structure are strongly linked with plant community dynamics and associated soil edaphic characteristics in these grassland soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-195
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobial ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 28 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Joey Spatafora, Frank Kauff, François Lutzoni, and David Geiser for supplying a subset of the sequences used as references in this study, Georgiana May for supplying 454 compatible LSU primers, Chris Wright at the Roy J. Carver Sequencing Center, Dave Tilman at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve LTER, as well as Matt Bakker, Dan Schlatter, and Lindsey Otto-Hanson for their contributions to soil sampling and processing. We also acknowledge the comments from anonymous reviewers which helped improve the quality and clarity of this manuscript. This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-67019-30200 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA).


  • Fungi
  • Fusarium
  • Metagenomics
  • Rhizosphere


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