Land use influences arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the farming–pastoral ecotone of northern China
- We performed a landscape-scale investigation to compare the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) communities between grasslands and farmlands in the farming–pastoral ecotone of northern China.
- AMF richness and community composition were examined with 454 pyrosequencing. Structural equation modelling (SEM) and multivariate analyses were applied to disentangle the direct and indirect effects (mediated by multiple environmental factors) of land use on AMF.
- Land use conversion from grassland to farmland significantly reduced AMF richness and extraradical hyphal length density, and these land use types also differed significantly in AMF community composition. SEM showed that the effects of land use on AMF richness and hyphal length density in soil were primarily mediated by available phosphorus and soil structural quality. Soil texture was the strongest predictor of AMF community composition. Soil carbon, nitrogen and soil pH were also significantly correlated with AMF community composition, indicating that these abiotic variables could be responsible for some of the community composition differences among sites.
- Our study shows that land use has a partly predictable effect on AMF communities across this ecologically relevant area of China, and indicates that high soil phosphorus concentrations and poor soil structure are particularly detrimental to AMF in this fragile ecosystem.