Revealing the relationship between plants and root-associated fungi is very important in understanding diversity maintenance and community assembly in ecosystems. However, the community assembly of root-associated fungi of focal plant species along a subtropical plant species diversity gradient is less documented. Here, we examined root-associated fungal communities associated with five ectomycorrhizal (EM) plant species (Betula luminifera, Castanea henryi, Castanopsis fargesii, C. sclerophylla,and Quercus serrate) in a Chinese subtropical woody plant species diversity (1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and 24 species) experiment, using paired-end Illumina MiSeq sequencing of the ITS2 region. In total, we detected 1933 root-associated fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at a 97% sequence similarity level. Plant identity had a significant effect on total and saprotrophic fungal OTU richness, but plant species diversity level had a significant effect on saprotrophic and pathogenic fungal OTU richness. The community composition of total, saprotrophic and EM fungi was structured by plant identity and plant species diversity level. However, the community composition of pathogenic fungi was only shaped by plant identity. This study highlights that plant identity has a stronger effect on the root-associated fungal community than plant species diversity level in a diverse subtropical forest ecosystem.
Xingchun Li, Xin Qian, Cheng Gao, Steffen Seitz, Thomas Scholten, Yonglong Wang, Hui Yao, Huiyun Gan, and Liangdong Guo. 2021. Plant identity strongly structures the root-associated fungal community in a diverse subtropical forest. Basic and Applied Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2021.01.002.