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Summary

Most studies on the species composition of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have solely analysed mycorrhizal roots or AM spores collected from soil samples. However, the spore production rate and proportions of AMF mycelium in roots and soils have all been shown to vary substantially in a taxon-specific manner. Therefore, in the study presented here we used a molecular approach to analyse the species composition of AMF in spores, intra-radical and extra-radical mycelium in an intensively farmed meadow in central Germany. By polymerase chain reaction and sequencing of the ITS region members of seven different families and species groups within Glomeromycota were identified. The data revealed remarkable differences in the composition of AMF taxa both between the spores and the mycelia, and between the two types of mycelia. Glomus group Ab was dominant in roots and spores, in accordance with previous research. However, members of this group were rarely detected as extra-radical mycelium, in which Paraglomeraceae were dominant, although we found no evidence for the presence of Paraglomeraceae in roots or spores, even when a specific primer set was used. These results may be interpreted as a further indication that AMF are not necessarily obligate symbionts of plants.