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East Missoula, MT, United States

Lekberg Y.,MPG Ranch | Lekberg Y.,University of Montana | Koide R.T.,Brigham Young University
Botany | Year: 2014

Our knowledge of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) function is largely based on results from short-term studies in controlled environments. While these have provided many important insights into the potential effects of the symbiosis on the two symbionts and their communities, they may have also inadvertently led to faulty assumptions about the function of the symbiosis in natural settings. Here we highlight the consequences of failing to consider the AM symbiosis from the perspectives of community ecology and evolutionary biology. Also, we argue that by distinguishing between physiological and evolutionary viewpoints, we may be able to resolve controversies regarding the mutualistic vs. parasitic nature of the symbiosis. Further, while most AM research has emphasized resource transfers, primarily phosphate and carbohydrate, our perceptions of parasitism, cheating, bet-hedging, and partner choice would most likely change if we considered other services. Finally, to gain a fuller understanding of the role of the AM symbiosis in nature, we need to better integrate physiological processes of plants and their AM fungi with their naturally occurring temporal and spatial patterns. It is our hope that this article will generate some fruitful discussions and make a contribution toward this end. Source

Lekberg Y.,Copenhagen University | Schnoor T.,Lund University | Kjoller R.,Copenhagen University | Gibbons S.M.,MPG Ranch | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2012

1. Disturbance is assumed to be a major driver of plant community composition, but whether similar processes operate on associated soil microbial communities is less known. Based on the assumed trade-off between disturbance tolerance and competiveness, we hypothesize that a severe disturbance applied within a semi-natural grassland would shift the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal community towards disturbance-tolerant fungi that are rare in undisturbed soils. 2. We used 454-sequencing of the large subunit rDNA region to characterize AM fungal communities in Plantago lanceolata roots grown in the field for 4months and exposed either to no disturbance or to severe disturbance where fungi from undisturbed soil were either permitted or prevented from re-colonizing the disturbed area. This allowed for a distinction between AM fungi that survived the disturbance and those that quickly re-colonized after a disturbance. To identify AM fungi that could potentially colonize the experimental plants, we also analysed roots from adjacent, undisturbed vegetation. 3. We found 32 fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) distributed across five known AM fungal families. Contrary to our expectations, disturbance did not significantly alter the community composition and OTU richness. Instead, OTU abundances were positively correlated across treatments; i.e., common OTUs in undisturbed soil were also common after the severe disturbance. However, the distribution of OTUs within and between plots was largely unpredictable, with approximately 40% of all sequences within a sample belonging to a single OTU of varying identity. The distribution of two plant species that are often poorly colonized by AM fungi (Dianthus deltoides and Carex arenaria) correlated significantly with the OTU composition, which may indicate that host quality could be an additional driver of fungal communities. 4. Synthesis. Our results suggest that factors other than disturbance drive the relative abundance of OTUs in this grassland and question the long-held assumption that communities shift in a predictable manner after a disturbance event. The reassembly of this fungal community indicates a high community resilience, but substantial local stochasticity and dominance by single OTUs, which could be due to priority effects among abundant AM fungi possessing a similar - and high - degree of disturbance tolerance. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society. Source

McLeod M.L.,University of Montana | Cleveland C.C.,University of Montana | Lekberg Y.,MPG Ranch | Lekberg Y.,University of Montana | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2016

Exotic plant invasion is often associated with dramatic increases in above-ground net primary productivity and soil nitrogen. However, most evidence for these increases comes from correlative studies of single species, leaving open the question of whether invasive plants drive these processes and whether they are consistent among invaders. We combined field surveys and measurements within experimental plantings to examine how plant productivity, soil nitrogen and the abundance of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) change in response to invasions by four exotic species. The relationship between plant productivity and soil nitrate differed among native and invasive species, suggesting a fundamental disparity in the effects of natives and invaders on ecosystem processes. In field surveys, dense patches of all invasive species had higher abundances of AOB than native-dominated sites. Three of the four invasive species had higher productivity, soil nitrate concentrations and rates of potential nitrification as compared to nearby native-dominated communities. In our experimental plantings, we found that two invasive species drove increases in soil nitrate and one invader caused increased productivity after a single season. Synthesis. Our results highlight the importance of the N cycling soil microbial community in how exotic invasive plants alter ecosystem function and show that shifts in function can occur rapidly. © 2016 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2016 British Ecological Society Source

Madsen M.D.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Davies K.W.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Mummey D.L.,MPG Ranch | Svejcar T.J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Rangeland Ecology and Management | Year: 2014

Cost-efficient strategies for revegetating annual grass-infested rangelands are limited. Restoration efforts typically comprise a combination of pre-emergent herbicide application and seeding to restore desired plant materials. However, practitioners struggle with applying herbicide at rates sufficient to achieve weed control without damaging nontarget species. The objective of this research was to determine if seed enhancement technologies using activated carbon would improve selectivity of the pre-emergent herbicide imazapic. Bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) seed was either untreated, coated with activated carbon, or incorporated into "herbicide protection pods" (HPPs) made of activated carbon through a newly developed seed extrusion technique. In a grow-room facility, bluebunch wheatgrass seeds were sown in pots that contained seed of the exotic-annual grass downy brome (Bromus tectorum). After planting, pots were sprayed with 70, 105, 140, or 210 g acid equivalent (ae) · ha-1 of imazapic or left unsprayed. Where herbicide was not applied, downy brome biomass dominated the growing space. Imazapic effectively controlled downy brome and untreated bluebunch wheatgrass. Seed coating improved bluebunch wheatgrass tolerance to imazapic at 70 g ae · ha-1. HPPs provided protection from imazapic at all application rates. When untreated seeds and HPPs are compared at the four levels of herbicide application (excluding the no herbicide level), HPPs on average were 4.8-, 3.8-, and 19.0-fold higher than untreated seeds in density, height, and biomass, respectively. These results indicate that HPPs and, to a lesser extent, activated carbon-coated seed have the potential to further enhance a single-entry revegetation program by providing land practitioners with the ability to apply imazapic at rates necessary for weed control while minimizing nontarget plant injury. Additional research is merited for further development and evaluation of these seed enhancement technologies, including field studies, before they can be recommended as restoration treatments. © 2014 The Society for Range Management. Source

Mondo S.J.,Cornell University | Toomer K.H.,Cornell University | Morton J.B.,West Virginia University | Lekberg Y.,MPG Ranch | And 2 more authors.
Evolution | Year: 2012

Many eukaryotes interact with heritable endobacteria to satisfy diverse metabolic needs. Some of these interactions are facultative symbioses, in which one partner is not essential to the other. Facultative symbioses are expected to be transitional stages along an evolutionary trajectory toward obligate relationships. We tested this evolutionary theory prediction in Ca. Glomeribacter gigasporarum, nonessential endosymbionts of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomeromycota). We found that heritable facultative mutualisms can be both ancient and evolutionarily stable. We detected significant patterns of codivergence between the partners that we would only expect in obligate associations. Using codiverging partner pairs and the fungal fossil record, we established that the Glomeromycota-Glomeribacter symbiosis is at least 400 million years old. Despite clear signs of codivergence, we determined that the Glomeribacter endobacteria engage in recombination and host switching, which display patterns indicating that the association is not evolving toward reciprocal dependence. We postulate that low frequency of recombination in heritable endosymbionts together with host switching stabilize facultative mutualisms over extended evolutionary times. © 2012 The Author(s). Evolution © 2012 The Society for the Study of Evolution. Source

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