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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal diversity rises but then falls during ecosystem retrogression

posted Sep 21, 2015, 6:39 AM by Etienne Laliberté
A new study has been accepted for publication in Molecular Ecology. In this study, we used pyrosequencing to survey shifts in arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal communities on roots and in soils along the retrogressive part of the 2-million year Jurien Bay dune chronosequence in south-western Australia.

Surprisingly, we found that AM fungal diversity initially increased from 1000-year old soils (quite fertile) to 120,000-year soils (low in phosphorus), but that diversity then declined markedly on 2,000,000 years with extremely low phosphorus availability. This suggests environmental filtering of AM fungi during ecosystem retrogression, when phosphorus reaches extremely low levels.