Adaptive spatiotemporal distribution of soil microfungi in ‘Evolution Canyon’ II, Lower Nahal Keziv, western Upper Galilee, Israel

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Corresponding author. E-mail: nevo@research.haifa.ac.il

Abstract

We describe and interpret spatiotemporal micromycete community structure and adaptive complexes in contrasting xeric and mesic microclimates in the soils of ‘Evolution Canyon’ II, Lower Nahal Keziv, western Upper Galilee, Israel. A total of 192 species from 60 genera belonging to Zygomycota (nine species), Ascomycota (13 species), and mitosporic fungi (170 species) were isolated. The fungal communities on the south-facing, xeric, ‘African’ slope (AS) demonstrated significantly greater diversity than on the north-facing, mesic, ‘European’ slope (ES) and the valley bottom (VB). Seasonally, winter slope communities were less heterogeneous. Forest localities on the ES and the VB in all seasons and the shady localities on the AS in the winter were overwhelmingly dominated by mesophilic Penicillium species. The sunny locality on the AS was characterized by a dominance of melanin-containing micromycetes that was most pronounced in the summer and by high occurrence and abundance of thermotolerant and thermophilic Aspergillus and Fusarium species. Ascomycetes and zygomycetes were the minor components in all local mycobiota studied; sexual ascomycetes, being stress-selected fungi, were more than ten times more abundant in the soil of the AS than in that of the ES, with the peak of abundance in the sunny summer community. The results demonstrated a microscale adaptive spatiotemporal inter- and intraslope divergence in soil mycobiota structure. Microclimatic natural selection appears to be the major factor affecting soil fungus diversity patterns. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society , 2003, 78, 527–539.

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