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ISME J. 2015 Oct;9(10):2246-60. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.38. Epub 2015 Mar 20.

Priority effects during fungal community establishment in beech wood.

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School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Sir Martin Evans Building, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK.
Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.


Assembly history of fungal communities has a crucial role in the decomposition of woody resources, and hence nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. However, it has not been clearly determined whether the fungal species that arrive first may, potentially, dictate the subsequent pathway of community development, that is, whether there is a priority effect at the species level. We used traditional culture-based techniques coupled with sequencing of amplified genetic markers to profile the fungal communities in beech (Fagus sylvatica) disks that had been pre-colonised separately with nine species from various stages of fungal succession. Clear differences in community composition were evident following pre-colonisation by different species with three distinct successor communities identified, indicating that individual species may have pivotal effects in driving assembly history. Priority effects may be linked to biochemical alteration of the resource and combative ability of the predecessor.

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