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Unravelling soil fungal communities from different Mediterranean land-use backgrounds

Journal article
Authors Alberto Orgiazzi
Erica Lumini
R. Henrik Nilsson
Mariangela Girlanda
Alfredo Vizzini
Paola Bonfante
Valeria Bianciotto
Published in PLoS ONE
Volume 7
Issue 4
Pages e34847
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages e34847
Language en
Links www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%...
Subject categories Microbiology, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Terrestrial ecology, Biological Systematics, Agronomy, Soil biology, Pedology

Abstract

Fungi strongly influence ecosystem structure and functioning, playing a key role in many ecological services as decomposers, plant mutualists and pathogens. The Mediterranean area is a biodiversity hotspot that is increasingly threatened by intense land use. Therefore, to achieve a balance between conservation and human development, a better understanding of the impact of land use on the underlying fungal communities is needed. We used parallel pyrosequencing of the nuclear ribosomal ITS regions to characterize the fungal communities in five soils subjected to different anthropogenic impact in a typical Mediterranean landscape: a natural cork-oak forest, a pasture, a managed meadow, and two vineyards. Marked differences in the distribution of taxon assemblages among the different sites and communities were found. Data analyses consistently indicated a sharp distinction of the fungal community of the cork oak forest soil from those described in the other soils. Each soil showed features of the fungal assemblages retrieved which can be easily related to the above-ground settings: ectomycorrhizal phylotypes were numerous in natural sites covered by trees, but were nearly completely missing from the anthropogenic and grass-covered sites; similarly, coprophilous fungi were common in grazed sites. Data suggest that investigation on the below-ground fungal community may provide useful elements on the above-ground features such as vegetation coverage and agronomic procedures, allowing to assess the cost of anthropogenic land use to hidden diversity in soil. Datasets provided in this study may contribute to future searches for fungal bio-indicators as biodiversity markers of a specific site or a land-use degree.

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