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      A Common Garden Test of Host-Symbiont Specificity Supports a Dominant Role for Soil Type in Determining AMF Assemblage Structure in Collinsia sparsiflora

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          Specialization in plant host-symbiont-soil interactions may help mediate plant adaptation to edaphic stress. Our previous field study showed ecological evidence for host-symbiont specificity between serpentine and non-serpentine adapted ecotypes of Collinsia sparsiflora and arbuscular mycorrrhizal fungi ( AMF). To test for adapted plant ecotype-AMF specificity between C. sparsiflora ecotypes and field AMF taxa, we conducted an AMF common garden greenhouse experiment. We grew C. sparsiflora ecotypes individually in a common pool of serpentine and non-serpentine AMF then identified the root AMF by amplifying rDNA, cloning, and sequencing and compared common garden AMF associates to serpentine and non-serpentine AMF controls. Mixing of serpentine and non-serpentine AMF soil inoculum resulted in an intermediate soil classified as non-serpentine soil type. Within this common garden both host ecotypes associated with AMF assemblages that resembled those seen in a non-serpentine soil. ANOSIM analysis and MDS ordination showed that common garden AMF assemblages differed significantly from those in the serpentine-only controls (R = 0.643, P<0.001), but were similar the non-serpentine-only control AMF assemblages (R = 0.081, P<0.31). There was no evidence of adapted host ecotype-AMF specificity. Instead soil type accounted for most of the variation AM fungi association patterns, and some differences between field and greenhouse behavior of individual AM fungi were found.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Phylogenetic distribution and evolution of mycorrhizas in land plants.

           Baoli Wang,  Ling Qiu (2006)
          A survey of 659 papers mostly published since 1987 was conducted to compile a checklist of mycorrhizal occurrence among 3,617 species (263 families) of land plants. A plant phylogeny was then used to map the mycorrhizal information to examine evolutionary patterns. Several findings from this survey enhance our understanding of the roles of mycorrhizas in the origin and subsequent diversification of land plants. First, 80 and 92% of surveyed land plant species and families are mycorrhizal. Second, arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) is the predominant and ancestral type of mycorrhiza in land plants. Its occurrence in a vast majority of land plants and early-diverging lineages of liverworts suggests that the origin of AM probably coincided with the origin of land plants. Third, ectomycorrhiza (ECM) and its derived types independently evolved from AM many times through parallel evolution. Coevolution between plant and fungal partners in ECM and its derived types has probably contributed to diversification of both plant hosts and fungal symbionts. Fourth, mycoheterotrophy and loss of the mycorrhizal condition also evolved many times independently in land plants through parallel evolution.
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            Ploughing up the wood-wide web?

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              Preferential allocation to beneficial symbiont with spatial structure maintains mycorrhizal mutualism.

              Mutualisms, beneficial interactions between species, are expected to be unstable because delivery of benefit likely involves fitness costs and selection should favour partners that deliver less benefit. Yet, mutualisms are common and persistent, even in the largely promiscuous associations between plants and soil microorganisms such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. In two different systems, we demonstrate preferential allocation of photosynthate by host plants to the more beneficial of two AM fungal symbionts. This preferential allocation could allow the persistence of the mutualism if it confers sufficient advantage to the beneficial symbiont that it overcomes the cost of mutualism. We find that the beneficial fungus does increase in biomass when the fungi are spatially separated within the root system. However, in well-mixed fungal communities, non-beneficial fungi proliferate as expected from their reduced cost of mutualism. Our findings suggest that preferential allocation within spatially structured microbial communities can stabilize mutualisms between plants and root symbionts.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                5 February 2013
                : 8
                : 2
                Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America
                University of California Riverside, United States of America
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SPS TDB. Performed the experiments: SPS. Analyzed the data: SPS. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: TDB. Wrote the paper: SPS.


                Current address: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center, Ada, Oklahoma, United States of America


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 10
                This research has been supported by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program (, by a grant from the University of California Natural Reserve System (, a grant from the Mycological Society of San Francisco (, and NSF Grant #2036096 (T.D. Bruns). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Soil Science
                Community Ecology
                Community Assembly
                Species Interactions
                Plant Ecology
                Plant-Environment Interactions
                Soil Ecology
                Plant Science



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