Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities under gradients of grazing in Mongolian grasslands of different aridity
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Communities of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in Mongolian grassland were characterized under gradients of grazing intensity at three study sites of different aridity: mountain forest steppe at Hustai National Park (Hustai), and desert steppe at Mandalgovi and Bulgan. Grazing intensity was classified into three categories: lightly grazed (LG), moderately grazed (MG), and heavily grazed (HG). With regard to floristic composition, grazing decreased the shoot biomass of Poaceae species, especially Stipa spp. Distinctness of the AM fungal communities was observed among the three study sites, but most of the AM fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) that comprised over 1.0% of the total reads were ubiquitous. This result indicates that the AM fungal communities may be derived from similar AM fungal floras in correspondence with environmental factors. The composition of AM fungal communities differed significantly among the grazing intensities at all study sites. The relative abundance of the most dominant AM fungal OTU of the LG plots decreased with an increase in grazing intensity at all study sites. The mean proportions of the most dominant AM fungal OTUs also decreased with increased grazing intensity at Hustai. Dominance by a single AM fungal taxon may be a typical ecological feature of the AM fungal symbiosis, and grazing disturbs AM fungal community structure.
KeywordsDryland Glomeraceae Glomeromycotina SSU rDNA Steppe Stipa
Mongolian soil and plant samples used for the analysis were transported to Japan with the permission of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, Mineral Resource Authority, Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Mongolia, and the Plant Protection Station, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (26304046) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan, and the Joint Research Program of Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University (2014-2015). We thank Robert McKenzie, PhD, from Edanz Group (www.edanzediting.com/ac), for editing a draft of this manuscript.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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