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Nitrogen addition alters soil fungal communities, but root fungal communities are resistant to change...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Frontiers in Microbiology
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 13

Plants are colonized by numerous microorganisms serving important symbiotic functions that are vital to plant growth and success. Understanding and harnessing these interactions will be useful in both managed and natural ecosystems faced with global change, but it is still unclear how variation in environmental conditions and soils influence the trajectory of these interactions. In this study, we examine how nitrogen addition alters plant-fungal interactions within two species of Populus - Populus deltoides and P. trichocarpa. In this experiment, we manipulated plant host, starting soil (native vs. away for each tree species), and nitrogen addition in a fully factorial replicated design. After ~10 weeks of growth, we destructively harvested the plants and characterized plant growth factors and the soil and root endosphere fungal communities using targeted amplicon sequencing of the ITS2 gene region. Overall, we found nitrogen addition altered plant growth factors, e.g., plant height, chlorophyll density, and plant N content. Interestingly, nitrogen addition resulted in a lower fungal alpha diversity in soils but not plant roots. Further, there was an interactive effect of tree species, soil origin, and nitrogen addition on soil fungal community composition. Starting soils collected from Oregon and West Virginia were dominated by the ectomycorrhizal fungi Inocybe (55.8% relative abundance), but interestingly when P. deltoides was grown in its native West Virginia soil, the roots selected for a high abundance of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, Rhizophagus. These results highlight the importance of soil origin and plant species on establishing plant-fungal interactions.