Habitat fragmentation in a Mediterranean-type forest alters resident and propagule mycorrhizal fungal communities
Anna Hopkins Orcid: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8090-5544
Centre for Ecosystem Management / School of Science
Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment.
Australasian Mycological Society.
Australian Research Council (ARC).
ARC Number : LP120200581
Aims: Anthropogenic activities disturb forests and their associated mycorrhizal fungi. The combination of climate change and habitat fragmentation are linked to increased incidence of a canker disease in a Mediterranean-type forest tree in Western Australia. As changes in communities of mycorrhizal fungi could predispose these Mediterranean-type forest trees to decline, we investigated how two aspects of mycorrhizal fungal community structure, soil propagules and resident communities on mature trees, respond to habitat fragmentation. Methods: Roots were collected from a forest tree (Corymbia calophylla) across a disturbance gradient. Soil collected from the same disturbance gradient was used in a glasshouse bioassay with C. calophylla as the bioassay host (i.e., soil propagule community). After four months, we harvested the seedlings and collected roots. DNA was extracted from the field roots (resident community) and glasshouse roots (propagule community), amplified with fungal specific primers, labelled with specific barcodes and subjected to 454 pyrosequencing. Results: Mycorrhizal fungal community composition overlapped substantially between the soil propagule and resident communities. However, the resident community had greater mycorrhizal fungal richness than the soil propagule community. Habitat fragmentation had a similar effect on each community structure: communities along highly fragmented areas had different community compositions than communities in a healthy forest. Conclusion: With the increased mortality of C. calophylla forest trees in recent years along edge habitats, understanding the effects habitat fragmentation has on communities of mycorrhizal fungi will further elucidate host-mutualist interactions in these forest ecosystems. The changes in community composition of mycorrhizal fungal species in both propagule and resident pools can have cascading effects on future tree establishment and health by predisposing forest trees to other abiotic or biotic factors.