Plant and Soil

, Volume 442, Issue 1–2, pp 215–232 | Cite as

Soil fungal communities vary with invasion by the exotic Spartina alternifolia Loisel. in coastal salt marshes of eastern China

  • Wen YangEmail author
  • Nasreen Jeelani
  • Lu Xia
  • Zhihong Zhu
  • Yiqi Luo
  • Xiaoli ChengEmail author
  • Shuqing An
Regular Article



Soil fungal communities play a critical role in ecosystem carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling. Although the effect of plant invasions on ecosystem C and N cycling is well established, its impact on soil fungal communities is not fully understood. The objective of this study was therefore to understand the variations in soil fungal communities as affected by plant invasion, and the mechanisms that drive these changes.


We examined the impacts of invasive Spartina alternifolia Loisel. (SA) on soil fungal abundance, diversity, community composition, trophic modes and functional groups in comparison with bare flat (BF) and native Suaeda salsa (Linn.) Pall. (SS), Scirpus mariqueter Tang et Wang (SM), and Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. (PA) communities in coastal salt marshes of eastern China, based on analyses of the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Illumina MiSeq DNA sequences of fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region.


SA invasion increased the soil fungal abundance and diversity compared to BF, SS, SM, and PA soils. The increased soil fungal abundance and diversity were highly related to soil organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC), litter C:N ratio, and root C:N ratio. Soil fungal community composition was shifted following SA invasion. Specifically, SA invasion significantly enhanced the relative abundance of Basidiomycota, and reduced the relative abundance of Ascomycota compared with BF, SS, SM, and PA soils. Additionally, SA invasion changed soil fungal trophic modes and functional groups. The relative abundance of saprotrophic fungi significantly increased, while the relative abundances of symbiotic and pathotrophic fungi decreased following SA invasion.


Our data revealed that SA invasion altered soil fungal abundance, diversity, community composition, trophic modes and functional groups, which were primarily driven by the quality and quantity of plant residues, soil nutrition substrates, as well as soil physicochemical properties. The changes in soil fungal communities, especially their trophic modes and functional groups following SA invasion would greatly affect soil C and N decomposition and accumulation with potential feedback on climate change.


Coastal wetland Fungal functional groups Illumina MiSeq DNA sequencing Plant invasions Soil carbon and nitrogen sequestration Soil fungal community composition 



Abundance-based coverage estimator


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi


Analysis of variance


Bare flat




Chao’s species richness estimator

C:N ratio

Carbon: Nitrogen ratio


Internal transcribed spacer




Operational taxonomic units


Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.


Principal coordinates analysis


Quantitative insights into microbial ecology


Quantitative polymerase chain reaction


Redundancy analysis


Ribosomal database project


Spartina alternifolia Loisel.


Shannon’s diversity index


Scirpus mariqueter Tang et Wang


Soil organic carbon


Soil organic matter


Soil organic nitrogen


Suaeda salsa (Linn.) Pall.


Water-soluble organic carbon



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 31600427), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant no. GK201803042), China Scholarship Council (grant no. 201806875004), Research Startup fund of Shaanxi Normal University (grant no.1000951110010899), and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (grant no. 2016 M590440). We thank the whole staff of the Jiangsu Yancheng Wetland National Nature Reserve for Rare Birds for supporting and helping in this research. We also appreciate two anonymous reviewers and editor for their insightful comments and valuable suggestions on this paper.

Supplementary material

11104_2019_4184_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 32 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life SciencesShaanxi Normal UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Life Science and Institute of Wetland EcologyNanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss), Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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