Forest Management Type Influences Diversity and Community Composition of Soil Fungi across Temperate Forest Ecosystems

Kezia Goldmann, Ingo Schöning, François Buscot, Tesfaye Wubet
Frontiers in Microbiology 2015, 6: 1300
Fungal communities have been shown to be highly sensitive toward shifts in plant diversity and species composition in forest ecosystems. However, little is known about the impact of forest management on fungal diversity and community composition of geographically separated sites. This study examined the effects of four different forest management types on soil fungal communities. These forest management types include age class forests of young managed beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), with beech stands age of approximately 30 years, age class beech stands with an age of approximately 70 years, unmanaged beech stands, and coniferous stands dominated by either pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) or spruce (Picea abies Karst.) which are located in three study sites across Germany. Soil were sampled from 48 study plots and we employed fungal ITS rDNA pyrotag sequencing to assess the soil fungal diversity and community structure. We found that forest management type significantly affects the Shannon diversity of soil fungi and a significant interaction effect of study site and forest management on the fungal operational taxonomic units richness. Consequently distinct fungal communities were detected in the three study sites and within the four forest management types, which were mainly related to the main tree species. Further analysis of the contribution of soil properties revealed that C/N ratio being the most important factor in all the three study sites whereas soil pH was significantly related to the fungal community in two study sites. Functional assignment of the fungal communities indicated that 38% of the observed communities were Ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) and their distribution is significantly influenced by the forest management. Soil pH and C/N ratio were found to be the main drivers of the ECM fungal community composition. Additional fungal community similarity analysis revealed the presence of study site and management type specific ECM genera. This study extends our knowledge on the impact of forest management type on general and ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity and community structure in temperate forests. High plasticity across management types but also study site specific spatial distribution revealed new insights in the ECM fungal distribution patterns.

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