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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fungi at a Small Scale: Spatial Zonation of Fungal Assemblages around Single Trees

  • Author(s): Branco, Sara
  • Bruns, Thomas D
  • Singleton, Ian
  • et al.

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Biological communities are often structured by environmental factors even at small spatial scales. Fungi are no exception, though the patterns and mechanisms underlying their community structure are usually unknown. Previous work documented zonation in fungi under tree canopies primarily through their fruiting patterns. Here we investigate the existence of zonation patterns in fungal communities around isolated Pinus muricata trees of different ages in northern coastal California. Using a combination of ingrowth bags and pyrosequencing to target underground mycelium we found highly diverse soil fungal communities associated with single trees. Both ectomycorrhizal and non-ectomycorrhizal fungi were present in all samples, but the latter were more species rich, dominated the samples by sequence read abundance, and showed partitioning by canopy-defined zones and tree age. Soil chemistry was correlated with fungal zonation, but host root density was not. Our results indicate different guilds of fungi partition space differently and are driven by distinct environmental parameters.

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