Contrasting patterns and drivers of soil fungal communities in subtropical deciduous and evergreen broadleaved forests


Subtropical broadleaved forests play a crucial role in supporting terrestrial ecosystem functions, but little is known about their belowground soil fungal communities despite that they have central functions in C, N, and P cycles. This study investigated the structures and identified the drivers of soil fungal communities in subtropical deciduous and evergreen broadleaved forests, using high-throughput sequencing and FUNGuild for fungal identification and assignment to the trophic guild. Fungal richness was much higher in the deciduous than in the evergreen forest. Both forests were dominated by Ascomycota and Basidiomycota phyla, but saprophytic fungi were more abundant in the deciduous forest and ectomycorrhizal fungi predominated in the evergreen forest. Fungal communities had strong links to plant and soil properties. Specifically, plant diversity and litter biomass were the main aboveground drivers of fungal diversity and composition in the deciduous forest, while host effects were prominent in the evergreen forest. The belowground factors, i.e., soil pH, water content, and nutrients especially available P, were identified as the primary drivers of soil fungal communities in the broadleaved forests. Co-occurrence network analysis revealed assembly of fungal composition in broadleaved forest soils was non-random. The smaller modularity of the network in the deciduous forest reflects lower resistance to environment changes. Concluding, these results showed that plant community attributes, soil properties, and potential interactions among fungal functional guilds operate jointly on the divergence of soil fungal community assembly in the two broadleaved forest types.

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
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