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Van Geel M.,Catholic University of Leuven | Ceustermans A.,Research Station for Fruit Cultivation | Van Hemelrijck W.,Research Station for Fruit Cultivation | Lievens B.,Catholic University of Leuven | Honnay O.,Catholic University of Leuven
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2015

Understanding which factors drive the diversity and community composition of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) is important due to the role of these soil micro-organisms in ecosystem functioning and current environmental threats to AMF biodiversity. Additionally, in agro-ecosystems, this knowledge may help to evaluate their use in making agriculture more sustainable. Here, we used 454-pyrosequencing of small subunit rRNA gene amplicons to quantify AMF diversity and community composition in the roots of cultivated apple trees across 24 orchards in central Belgium. We aimed at identifying the factors (soil chemical variables, organic vs. conventional farming, and geographical location) that affect AMF diversity and community composition. In total, 110 AMF OTUs were detected, of which the majority belonged to the Glomeraceae (73%) and the Claroideoglomeraceae (19%). We show that soil characteristics and farming system, rather than the geographical location of the orchards, shape AMF communities on apple trees. Particularly, plant-available P content of the soil was associated with lower AMF diversity. In orchards with a lower plant-available P content of the soil (P < 100 mg/kg soil), we also found a significantly higher AMF diversity in organically managed orchards as compared to conventionally managed orchards. Finally, the degree of nestedness of the AMF communities was related to plant-available P and N content of the soil, pointing at a progressive loss of AMF taxa with increasing fertilization. Overall, we conclude that a combination of organic orchard management and moderate fertilization may preserve diverse AMF communities on apple trees and that AMF in the roots of apple trees appear not to be dispersal limited at the scale of central Belgium. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

van Geel M.,Catholic University of Leuven | de Beenhouwer M.,Catholic University of Leuven | Ceulemans T.,Catholic University of Leuven | Caes K.,Catholic University of Leuven | And 5 more authors.
Plant and Soil | Year: 2016

Aims: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play a key role in the functioning of agricultural ecosystems. Therefore, understanding how the application of fertilizers, a common management practice, affects AMF communities is of major importance. Here we aimed to: (i) experimentally test whether different amounts and forms of phosphorus (P) fertilizer affect AMF diversity and community composition associated with the roots of apple trees (Malus domestica); (ii) identify differences in tolerance to P fertilization between AMF taxa. Methods: We used 454-pyrosequencing of the small subunit rRNA gene amplicons to quantify AMF diversity and community composition in root samples obtained from a three year field experiment, with two inorganic, three slow-release P fertilization and one control treatment. Results: The slow-release fertilizer treatments showed significantly higher AMF richness and differed in community composition compared to the inorganic fertilizer treatments. The distribution of AMF OTUs showed a significantly nested pattern. Additionally, AMF communities in the inorganic fertilizer treatments were a subset of the communities in the slow-release fertilizer treatments. Conclusions: We demonstrate that application of slow-release fertilizers promoted AMF diversity in the roots of cultivated apple trees in comparison to the other treatments. The application of inorganic fertilizers elevated levels of plant-available P in the soil and selected only a small subset of abundant AMF, resulting in a lower AMF diversity. This may result in AMF communities dominated by inferior AMF mutualists. © 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

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