Differences in soil fungal assemblages associated with native and non-native tree species of varying weediness
Here we characterize and compare the diversity of belowground fungal communities of maples (Sapindaceae: Acer) varying in both nativity and weediness, and interpret our findings in the context of multiple non-exclusive theories on tree invasions and fungal associations. We made our fungal community comparisons based on high-throughput Illumina sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region of fungal ribosomal DNA of soil samples associated with the roots of different species of maple collected from six sites throughout Central Pennsylvania. In our system, we found that weedy species, regardless of nativity, had the greatest soil fungal richness and that the nonnative invasive Norway maple had the highest abundance of mycorrhizal mutualists. Despite that much of the fungal community variability in our system was attributable to inter-site variability, we found that the core fungal communities associated with nonnative tree species were an inclusively larger set that included nearly all of those associated with native trees in addition to many not found with the natives, and the core communities of non-weedy species were largely a subset of those associated with weedy maples. In addition to confirming the strong influence that site variation has on soil fungal communities, our findings are also largely consistent with positive feedback from native fungal communities, possible co-invasion by fungal associates that are only associated with the nonnative trees, and generally add to the growing number of studies that have observed a greater abundance of mutualists associated with invasive trees that interact with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
KeywordsAcer Belowground fungi Biogeography Invasive species ITS1 Rhizosphere Mycorrhiza
Funding for this project was provided by GCAT-SEEK through the National Science Foundation (DBI-1248096), by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and by Juniata College Student Research Fellowship Committee. Special thanks to Maple Brook Nursery and Fox Hill Gardens for their nursery stock to be sampled, Jeff Meadows for access to the Juniata College and Peace Chapel sampling locations, and the US Army Corps of Engineers for access to the Raystown Lake and Seven Points Marina sampling locations. Additional thanks for analytical assistance from Caleb Madder and William Bernard. Thanks to Vince Buonaccorsi for help with the experimental design.
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