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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55507. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055507. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

A common garden test of host-symbiont specificity supports a dominant role for soil type in determining AMF assemblage structure in Collinsia sparsiflora.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.


Specialization in plant host-symbiont-soil interactions may help mediate plant adaptation to edaphic stress. Our previous field study showed ecological evidence for host-symbiont specificity between serpentine and non-serpentine adapted ecotypes of Collinsia sparsiflora and arbuscular mycorrrhizal fungi (AMF). To test for adapted plant ecotype-AMF specificity between C. sparsiflora ecotypes and field AMF taxa, we conducted an AMF common garden greenhouse experiment. We grew C. sparsiflora ecotypes individually in a common pool of serpentine and non-serpentine AMF then identified the root AMF by amplifying rDNA, cloning, and sequencing and compared common garden AMF associates to serpentine and non-serpentine AMF controls. Mixing of serpentine and non-serpentine AMF soil inoculum resulted in an intermediate soil classified as non-serpentine soil type. Within this common garden both host ecotypes associated with AMF assemblages that resembled those seen in a non-serpentine soil. ANOSIM analysis and MDS ordination showed that common garden AMF assemblages differed significantly from those in the serpentine-only controls (R = 0.643, P<0.001), but were similar the non-serpentine-only control AMF assemblages (R = 0.081, P<0.31). There was no evidence of adapted host ecotype-AMF specificity. Instead soil type accounted for most of the variation AM fungi association patterns, and some differences between field and greenhouse behavior of individual AM fungi were found.

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