What determines Alnus-associated ectomycorrhizal community diversity and specificity? A comparison of host and habitat effects at a regional scale
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- Global-scale analyses of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi communities emphasize host plant families as the main drivers of diversity. This study aims to test, on Alnus–ECM communities, which fungi are said to be ‘host-specific’, to what extent host species, habitat and distance explain their alpha and beta diversity variations, and their specificity.
- In France, ECM communities associated with two subgenera and five species of Alnus, were sampled on 165 trees from 39 lowland to subalpine sites. In all, 1178 internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences of ECM fungi clustered in 86 molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs).
- The species richness was low but still variable, and the evenness of communities was lower on organic soils and in Corsica. Similarity between communities was influenced both by host, soil parameters, altitude and longitude, but not by climate and distance. A large majority of ‘specific’ fungi were shared between host species within a subgenus, and showed habitat preferences within the subgenus distribution range.
- Our study confirms that Alnus ECM communities are low in diversity, highly conserved at a regional scale, and partly shared between congeneric host species. A large part of alpha and beta diversity variations remained unexplained, and other processes may shape these communities.