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Mol Ecol. 2003 Nov;12(11):3085-95.

Co-existing grass species have distinctive arbuscular mycorrhizal communities.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of York, PO Box 373, York YO10 5YW, UK.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are biotrophic symbionts colonizing the majority of land plants, and are of major importance in plant nutrient supply. Their diversity is suggested to be an important determinant of plant community structure, but the influence of host-plant and environmental factors on AM fungal community in plant roots is poorly documented. Using the terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) strategy, the diversity of AM fungi was assessed in 89 roots of three grass species (Agrostis capillaris, Festuca rubra, Poa pratensis) that co-occurred in the same plots of a field experiment. The impact of different soil amendments (nitrogen, lime, nitrogen and lime) and insecticide application on AM fungal community was also studied. The level of diversity found in AM fungal communities using the T-RFLP strategy was consistent with previous studies based on clone libraries. Our results clearly confirm that an AM fungal host-plant preference exists, even between different grass species. AM communities colonizing A. capillaris were statistically different from the others (P < 0.05). Although grass species evenness changed in amended soils, AM fungal community composition in roots of a given grass species remained stable. Conversely, in plots where insecticide was applied, we found higher AM fungal diversity and, in F. rubra roots, a statistically different AM fungal community.

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