Plant and Soil

, Volume 271, Issue 1–2, pp 83–90 | Cite as

Neighboring plant influences on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal community composition as assessed by T-RFLP analysis

  • Daniel L. Mummey
  • Matthias C. Rillig
  • William E. Holben


Controls on root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) include host nutrient status, identity of symbionts and soil physico-chemical properties. Here we show, in the field, that the subset of the AMF community colonizing the roots of a common grass species, Dactylis glomerata, was strongly controlled by neighboring roots of a different plant species, Centaurea maculosa, an invasive forb, thus adding a biological spatial component to controls on root colonization. Using an AMF-specific, 18s rDNA-based terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis method, significant differences were found between AMF community fingerprints of samples derived from roots of grasses with (GCm) and without (G0) neighboring C. maculosa. There were also significant differences between samples derived from C. maculosa roots (Cmac) and both G Cm and G0 roots. Sample ordination indicated three generally distinct groups consisting of Cmac, GCm and G0, with G Cm samples being of intermediate distance between G0and C mac . Our results indicate that, with the presence of C. maculosa, AMF communities of D. glomerata shift to reflect community composition associated with C. maculosa roots. These results highlight the importance of complex spatial distributions of AMF communities at the scale of a root system. An additional dimension to our study is that C. maculosa is an aggressively invasive plant in the intermountain West. Viewed in this light, these results suggest that pervasive influences of this plant on AMF communities, specifically in roots of its competitors, may represent a mechanism contributing to its invasive success. However, further work is clearly required to determine the extent to which AMF genotypic alteration by neighboring plants influences competitive relationships.


arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi Centaurea maculosa neighbor influences T-RFLP 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel L. Mummey
    • 1
  • Matthias C. Rillig
    • 1
  • William E. Holben
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUS

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