Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 562372
Title Plant functional group drives the community structure of saprophytic fungi in a grassland biodiversity experiment
Author(s) Francioli, Davide; Rijssel, Sophie Q. van; Ruijven, Jasper van; Termorshuizen, Aad J.; Cotton, Anne; Dumbrell, Alex J.; Raaijmakers, Jos M.; Weigelt, Alexandra; Mommer, Liesje
Source Plant and Soil (2020). - ISSN 0032-079X
Department(s) Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation
Laboratory of Nematology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2020
Keyword(s) Decomposition - Fungal saprophytes - Grasslands - Plant functional group - Plant species richness - Root traits

Aims: Saprophytic fungi are important agents of soil mineralization and carbon cycling. Their community structure is known to be affected by soil conditions such as organic matter and pH. However, the effect of plant species, whose roots provide the litter input into the soil, on the saprophytic fungal community is largely unknown. Methods: We examined the saprophytic fungi in a grassland biodiversity experiment with eight plant species belonging to two functional groups (grasses and forbs), combining DNA extraction from plant roots, next-generation sequencing and literature research. Results: We found that saprophyte richness increased with plant species richness, but plant functional group richness was the best predictor. Plant functional group was also the main factor driving fungal saprophytic community structure. This effect was correlated with differences in root lignin content and C:N ratio between grasses and forbs. In monocultures, root traits and plant functional group type explained 16% of the variation in community structure. The saprophyte taxa detected in mixed plant communities were to a large extent subsets of those found in monocultures. Conclusions: Our work shows that the richness and community structure of the root-associated saprophytic fungi can largely be predicted by plant functional groups and their associated root traits. This means that the effects of plant diversity on ecosystem functions such as litter decomposition may also be predictable using information on plant functional groups in grasslands.

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