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Tracking arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to their source: active inoculation and passive dispersal differentially affect community assembly in urban soils

Paul Metzler

Corresponding Author

Paul Metzler

Environmental Studies Department, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 03755 USA

Author for correspondence:

Paul Metzler

Email:[email protected]

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Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas

Kelly Ksiazek-Mikenas

Department of Biology, Elmhurst University, Elmhurst, IL, 60126 USA

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V. Bala Chaudhary

V. Bala Chaudhary

Environmental Studies Department, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 03755 USA

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First published: 31 January 2024

Summary

  • Communities of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi assemble passively over time via biotic and abiotic mechanisms. In degraded soils, AM fungal communities can assemble actively when humans manage mycorrhizas for ecosystem restoration.
  • We investigated mechanisms of urban AM fungal community assembly in a 2-yr green roof experiment. We compared AM fungal communities in inoculated and uninoculated trays to samples from two potential sources: the inoculum and air.
  • Active inoculation stimulated more distinct and diverse AM fungal communities, an effect that intensified over time. In the treatment trays, 45% of AM fungal taxa were detected in the inoculum, 2% were detected in aerial samples, 23% were detected in both inoculum and air, and 30% were not detected in either source.
  • Passive dispersal of AM fungi likely resulted in the successful establishment of a small number of species, but active inoculation with native AM fungal species resulted in an immediate shift to a diverse and unique fungal community. When urban soils are constructed or modified by human activity, this is an opportunity for intervention with AM fungi that will persist and add diversity to that system.

Data availability

Sequencing data are available through the NCBI SRA BioProject ID PRJNA989570.