Meta-analysis of deep-sequenced fungal communities indicates limited taxon sharing between studies and the presence of biogeographic patterns
- High-throughput amplicon sequencing gives new insights into fungal community ecology. Massively generated molecular data lead to the discovery of vast fungal diversity. However, it is unclear to what extent operational taxonomic units (OTUs) overlap among independent studies, because no comparative studies exist.
- We compared fungal diversity based on the internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) region among 10 published studies. Starting from the raw 454 pyrosequencing data, we used a uniform pipeline to prune the reads. We investigated fungal richness and taxonomic composition among phyllosphere and soil fungal communities, as well as biogeographic signals in the data.
- We did not find globally distributed OTUs, even when comparing fungal communities from similar habitats (phyllosphere or soil). This suggests that high local fungal diversity scales up to high global diversity. The most OTU-rich classes in the phyllosphere were Dothideomycetes (21%) and Sordariomycetes (14%), and in the soil were Sordariomycetes (13%) and Agaricomycetes (12%). The richness estimates suggest the presence of undiscovered fungal diversity even in deeply sequenced study systems.
- The small number of OTUs shared among studies indicates that globally distributed taxa and habitat generalists may be rare. Latitudinal diversity decline and distance decay relationships suggest the presence of biogeographic patterns similar to those in plants and animals.