Plant and Soil

, Volume 397, Issue 1–2, pp 347–356 | Cite as

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities show low resistance and high resilience to wildfire disturbance

  • Xingjia Xiang
  • Sean M. Gibbons
  • Jian Yang
  • Jianjian Kong
  • Ruibo Sun
  • Haiyan Chu
Regular Article



Wildfires are important disturbances that help to shape the structure and function of forest ecosystems, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are key players in the post-fire recovery of soils and understory vegetation. We aimed to investigate the response of AMF communities to wildfire over different timescales.


Primer set AMV4.5NF/AMDGR was used to amplify soil 18S rRNA gene fragments for the 454 GS-FLX pyrosequencing platform to examine belowground AMF communities 1 and 11 years following low- and high-intensity wildfires in the Greater Khingan Mountains of China.


The majority of AMF sequences detected were annotated as Glomeraceae, Claroideoglomeraceae, Diversisporaceae and Acaulosporaceae. Both AMF community composition and alpha-diversity were correlated with herbaceous and shrubby biomass, available phosphorus (AP) and NH4 +, which were in turn altered by wildfire. AMF community composition, alpha-diversity, and phylogenetic structure were significantly altered 1-year-post-fire. However, AMF communities were indistinguishable from unburned forest soils 11-year-post-fire.


Our results indicated that AMF communities are resilient to wildfire on decadal timescales. This resilience appears to depend on the post-fire regrowth of understory vegetation and the subsequent recovery of soil chemical properties.


Wildfire Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Pyrosequencing Resilience Forest ecosystem 



We thank Wenhua Cai, Zhihua Liu, Weili Liu and Lei Fang for assistance in sampling. This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program (Grant #XDB15010101) of Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Program on Key Basic Research Project (973 Program, Grant #2014CB954002), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41371254, 41071121). S.M.G. was supported by an EPA STAR Graduate Fellowship and by the National Institutes of Health Training Grant 5T-32EB-00941. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11104_2015_2633_MOESM1_ESM.docx (40.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 41572 kb)


  1. Barcenas-Moreno G, Garcia-Orenes F, Mataix-Solera J, Mataix-Beneyto J, Baath E (2011) Soil microbial recolonisation after a fire in a Mediterranean forest. Biol Fertil Soils 47:261–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergeron Y, Dubuc M (1989) Succession in the southern part of the Canadian boreal forest. Vegetation 79:51–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blanchet FG, Legendre P, Borcard D (2008) Forward selection of explanatory variables. Ecology 89:2623–2632CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bollen GJ (1969) The selective effect of heat treatment on the microflora of a greenhouse soil. Neth J Plant Pathol 75:157–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buchholz K, Motto H (1981) Abundances and vertical distributions of Mycorrhizae in plains and barrens forest soils from the New-Jersey pine barrens. Bull Torrey Bot Club 108:268–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cairney JW, Bastias BA (2007) Influences of fire on forest soil fungal communities. Can J For Res 37:207–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caporaso JG, Kuczynski J, Stombaugh J, Bittinger K, Bushman FD, Costello EK, Fierer N, Peña AG, Goodrich JK, Gordon JI et al (2010) QIIME allows analysis of high-throughput community sequencing data. Nat Methods 7:335–336CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Certini G (2005) Effects of fire on properties of forest soils: a review. Oecologia 143:1–10CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang Y, He HS, Bishop I, Hu YM, Bu RC, Xu CG, Li X (2007) Long-term forest landscape responses to fire exclusion in the Great Xing’an Mountains, China. Int J Wildland Fire 16:34–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheng L, Booker FL, Tu C, Burkey KO, Zhou L, Shew HD, Ruffy TW, Hu S (2012) Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi increase organic carbon decomposition under elevated CO2. Science 337:1084–1087CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Choromanska U, DeLuca TH (2001) Prescribed fire alters the impact of wildfire on soil biochemical properties in a ponderosa pine forest. Soil Sci Soc Am J 65:232–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clarke KR (1993) Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Aust J Ecol 18:117–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeBano LF (2000) The role of fire and soil heating on water repellency in wildland environments: a review. J Hydrol 231:195–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deka HK, Mishra RR (1983) The effect of slash burning on soil microflora. Plant Soil 73:167–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeLuca TH, Sala A (2006) Frequent fire alters nitrogen transformations in ponderosa pine stands of the inland northwest. Ecology 87:2511–2522CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Didham RK, Norton DA (2006) When are alternative stable states more likely to occur? Oikos 113:357–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Didham RK, Watts CH, Norton DA (2005) Are systems with strong underlying biotic regimes more likely to exhibit alternative stable states? Oikos 110:09–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dixon P (2003) VEGAN, a package of R functions for community ecology. J Veg Sci 14:927–930CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Edgar RC (2010) Search and clustering orders of magnitude faster that BLAST. Bioinformatics 26:2460–2461CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Egger KN (1986) The influence of the microflora on physical properties of soils. I. Effects associated with filamentous algae and fungi. Aust J Soil Res 2:111–112Google Scholar
  21. Fang L, Yang J (2014) Atmospheric effects on the performance and threshold extrapolation of multi-temporal Landsat derived dNBR for burn severity assessment. Int J Appl Earth Obs Geoinf 33:10–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fernández I, Cabaneiro A, Carballas T (1997) Organic matter changes immediately after a wildfire in an Atlantic forest soil and comparison with laboratory soil heating. Soil Biol Biochem 29:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ferrenberg S, O’Neill SP, Knelman JE, Todd B, Duddan S, Nemergut DR (2013) Changes in assembly processes in soil bacterial communities following a wildfire disturbance. ISME J 13:1–10Google Scholar
  24. Fitter AH (2005) Darkness visible: reflections on underground ecology. J Ecol 93:231–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. French NHF, Kasischke ES, Hall RJ, Murphy KA, Verbyla DL, Hoy EE, Allen JL (2008) Using Landsat data to assess fire and burn severity in the North American boreal forest region: an overview and summary of results. Int J Wildland Fire 17:443–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goldammer JG (1999) Fire-induced conversion of a lowland tropical rainforest to savanna in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Science 284:1782–1783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Granstrom A, Schimmel J (1993) Heat-effects on seeds and rhizomes of a selection of boreal forest plants and potential reaction to fire. Oecologia 94:307–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Guénon R, Vennetier M, Dupuy N, Roussos S, Pailler A, Gros R (2011) Trends in recovery of Mediterranean soil chemical properties and microbial activities after infrequent and frequent wildfires. Land Degrad Dev 24:115–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hamman ST, Burke IC, Stromberger ME (2007) Relationships between microbial community structure and soil environmental conditions in a recently burned system. Soil Biol Biochem 39:1703–1711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hart SC, DeLuca TH, Newman GS, MacKenzie MD, Boyle SI (2005) Post-fire vegetative dynamics as drivers of microbial community structure and function in forest soils. For Ecol Manag 220:166–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Horn S, Caruso T, Verbruggen E, Rilling MC, Hempel S (2014) Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities are phylogenetically clustered at small scales. ISME J 14:1–12Google Scholar
  32. Hoy EE, French NH, Turetsky MR, Trigg SN, Kasischke ES (2008) Evaluating the potential of Landsat TM/ETM+ imagery for assessing fire severity in Alaskan black spruce forests. Int J Wildland Fire 17:500–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Isobe K, Otsuka S, Sudiana IM, Nurkanto A, Senoo K (2009) Community composition of soil bacteria nearly a decade after a fire in a tropical rainforest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. J Gen Appl Microbiol 55:329–337CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Jansa J, Mozafar A, Kuhn G, Anken T, Ruh R, Sanders IR, Frossard E (2003) Soil tillage affects the community structure of mycorrhizal fungi in maize roots. Ecol Appl 13:1164–1176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kembel SW, Cowan PD, Helmus MR, Cornwell WK, Morlon H, Ackerly DD, Blomberg SP, Webb CO (2010) Picante: R tools for integrating phylogenies and ecology. Bioinformatics 26:1463–1464CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Key C, Benson N (2005) Landscape assessment: ground measure of severity, the Composite Burn Index; and remote sensing of severity, the Normalized Burn Ratio. In: FIREMON: fire effects monitoring and inventory system. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-164-CD: LA1-LA51. United States Department of Agriculture, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, Utah, USAGoogle Scholar
  37. Leduc SD, Lilleskov EA, Horton TR, Rothstein DE (2013) Ectomycorrhizal fungal succession coincides with shifts in organic nitrogen availability and canopy closure in post-wildfire jack pine forests. Oecologia 172:257–269CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Leibold MA, McPeek MA (2006) Coexistence of the niche and neutral perspectives in community ecology. Ecology 8:1399–1410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lekberg Y, Schnoor T, Kjøller R, Gibbons SM, Hansen LH, Al-Soud W, Sørensen SJ, RosendahL S (2011) 454-sequencing reveals stochastic local reassembly and high disturbance tolerance within arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities. J Ecol 100:151–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lekberg Y, Gibbons SM, RosendahL S, Ramsey PW (2013) Severe plant invasions can increase mycorrhizal fungal abundance and diversity. ISME J 7:1424–1433CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. Liu ZH, Yang J, Chang Y, Weisberg PJ, He HS (2012) Spatial patterns and drivers of fire occurrence and its future trend under climate change in a boreal forest of Northeast China. Glob Chang Biol 18:2041–2056CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lumini E, Orgiazzi A, Borriello R, Bonfante P, Bianciotto V (2010) Disclosing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal biodiversity in soil through a land-use gradient using a pyrosequencing approach. Environ Microbiol 12:2165–2179PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Luo YQ, Hui DF, Zhang DQ (2006) Elevated CO2 stimulates net accumulations of carbon and nitrogen in land ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Ecology 87:53–63CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Moora M, Öpik M, Sen R, Zobel M (2004) Native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities differentially influence the seedling performance of rare and common Pulsatilla species. Funct Ecol 18:554–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Neary DG, Klopatek CC, DeBano LF, Ffolliott PF (1999) Fire effects on belowground sustainability: a review and synthesis. For Ecol Manag 122:51–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Öpik M, Metsis M, Daniell TJ, Zobel M, Moora M (2009) Large-scale parallel 454 sequencing reveals host ecological group specificity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a boreonemoral forest. New Phytol 184:424–437CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Öpik M, Vanatoa A, Vanatoa E, Moora M, Davison J, Kalwij JM, Reier U, Zobel M (2010) The online database MaarjAM reveals global and ecosystemic distribution patterns in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomeromycota). New Phytol 188:223–241CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Ostlund L, Zackrisson O, Axelsson AL (1997) The history and transformation of a Scandinavian boreal forest landscape since the 19th century. Can J For Res 27:1198–1206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Reeder J, Knight R (2010) Rapidly denoising pyrosequencing amplicon reads by exploiting rank-abundance distributions. Nat Methods 7:668–669CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. Rees DC, Juday GP (2002) Plant species diversity on logged versusburned sites in central Alaska. For Ecol Manag 155:291–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rillig MC, Mummey DL (2006) Mycorrhizas and soil structure. New Phytol 171:41–53CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Rosendahl S, Matzen HB (2008) Genetic structure of arbuscular mycorrhizal populations in fallow and cultivated soils. New Phytol 179:1154–1161CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Saia S, Benitez E, Garcia-Garrido JM, Settanni L, Amato G, Giambalvo D (2014) The effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on total plant nitrogen uptake and nitrogen recovery from soil organic material. J Agric Sci 152:370–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Slik JWF, Verburg RW, Kessler PJA (2002) Effects of fire and selective logging on the tree species composition of lowland dipterocarp forest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Biodivers Conserv 11:85–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smithwick EA, Kashian DM, Ryan MG, Turner MG (2009) Long-term ecosystem nitrogen storage and soil nitrogen availability in post-fire lodgepole pine ecosystems. Ecosystems 12:792–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Song YY, Zeng RS, Xu JF, Li J, Shen X (2010) Interplant communication of tomato plants through underground common mycorrhizal networks. PLoS One 5, e13324CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Stendell ER, Horton TR, Bruns TD (1999) Early effects of prescribed fire on the structure of the ectomycorrhizal fungus community in a Sierra Nevada ponderosa pine forest. Mycol Res 103:1353–1359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sykorova Z, Ineichen K, Wiemken A, Redecker D (2007) The cultivation bias: different communities of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi detected in roots from the field, from bait plants transplanted to the field, and from a greenhouse trap experiment. Mycorrhiza 18:1–14CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. van der Heijden MG (2008) The unseen majority: soil microbes as drivers of plant diversity and productivity in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol Lett 11:651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. van der Heijden MG, Boller T, Wiemken A, Sanders IR (1998) Different arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal species are potential determinants of plant community structure. Ecology 79:2082–2091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Vernes K, Johnson CN, Castellano MA (2004) Fire-related changes in biomass of hypogeous sporocarps at foraging points used by a tropical mycophagous marsupial. Mycol Res 108:1438–1446CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Visser S (1995) Ectomycorrhizal fungal succession in jack pine stands following wildfire. New Phytol 129:389–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wang CK, Gower ST, Wang YH, Zhao HX, Yan P, Bond-Lamberty BP (2001) The influence of fire on carbon distribution and net primary production of boreal Larix gmelinii forests in north-eastern China. Glob Chang Biol 7:719–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wang QK, Zhong MC, Wang SL (2012) A meta-analysis on the response of microbial biomass, dissolved organic matter, respiration, and N mineralization in mineral soil to fire in forest ecosystems. For Ecol Manag 271:91–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wardle DA, Zackrisson O, Nilsson MC (1998) The charcoal effect in Boreal forests: mechanisms and ecological consequences. Oecologia 115:419–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Webb CO (2000) Exploring the phylogenetic structure of ecological communities: an example for rain forest trees. Am Nat 156:145–155CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Webb CO, Ackerly DD, McPeek MA, Donoghue MJ (2002) Phylogenies and community ecology. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:475–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wright SF, Upadhyaya A (1998) A survey of soils for aggregate stability and glomalin, a glycoprotein produced by hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Plant Soil 198:97–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Xiang XJ, Shi Y, Yang J, Kong JJ, Lin XG, Zhang HY, Zeng J, Chu HY (2014) Rapid recovery of soil bacterial communities after wildfire in a Chinese boreal forest. Sci Rep 4:3829PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  70. Zuur AF, Leno EN, Elphick CS (2010) A protocol for data exploration to avoid common statistical problems. Methods Ecol Evol 1:3–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xingjia Xiang
    • 1
    • 4
  • Sean M. Gibbons
    • 2
  • Jian Yang
    • 3
  • Jianjian Kong
    • 3
  • Ruibo Sun
    • 1
    • 4
  • Haiyan Chu
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Graduate Program in Biophysical SciencesUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations