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Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities and their functional traits mediate plant–soil interactions in trace element contaminated soils

Gil-Martínez, M., López-García, Á., Domínguez, M. T., Navarro-Fernández, C. M., Kjøller, R., Tibbett, M. and Marañón, T. (2018) Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities and their functional traits mediate plant–soil interactions in trace element contaminated soils. Frontiers in Plant Science. ISSN 1664-462X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01682

Abstract/Summary

There is an increasing consensus that microbial communities have an important role in mediating ecosystem processes. Trait-based ecology predicts that the impact of the microbial communities on ecosystem functions will be mediated by the expression of their traits at community level. The link between the response of microbial community traits to environmental conditions and its effect on plant functioning is a gap in most current microbial ecology studies. In this study, we analyzed functional traits of ectomycorrhizal fungal species in order to understand the importance of their community assembly for the soil–plant relationships in holm oak trees (Quercus ilex subsp. ballota) growing in a gradient of exposure to anthropogenic trace element (TE) contamination after a metalliferous tailings spill. Particularly, we addressed how the ectomycorrhizal composition and morphological traits at community level mediate plant response to TE contamination and its capacity for phytoremediation. Ectomycorrhizal fungal taxonomy and functional diversity explained a high proportion of variance of tree functional traits, both in roots and leaves. Trees where ectomycorrhizal fungal communities were dominated by the abundant taxa Hebeloma cavipes and Thelephora terrestris showed a conservative root economics spectrum, while trees colonized by rare taxa presented a resource acquisition strategy. Conservative roots presented ectomycorrhizal functional traits characterized by high rhizomorphs formation and low melanization which may be driven by resource limitation. Soil-to-root transfer of TEs was explained substantially by the ectomycorrhizal fungal species composition, with the highest transfer found in trees whose roots were colonized by Hebeloma cavipes. Leaf phosphorus was related to ectomycorrhizal species composition, specifically higher leaf phosphorus was related to the root colonization by Thelephora terrestris. These findings support that ectomycorrhizal fungal community composition and their functional traits mediate plant performance in metal-contaminated soils, and have a high influence on plant capacity for phytoremediation of contaminants. The study also corroborates the overall effects of ectomycorrhizal fungi on ecosystem functioning through their mediation over the plant economics spectrum.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Biodiversity, Crops and Agroecosystems Division > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:80722
Publisher:Frontiers

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