EGU23-9220, updated on 21 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and their associated plant communities jointly respond to long-term nutrient deficiencies in a managed grassland

Kian Jenab1, Lauren Alteio1, Stefan Gorka1, Ksenia Guseva1, Sean Darcy1, Lucia Fuchslueger1, Alberto Canarini1, Victoria Martin1, Julia Wiesenbauer1, Felix Spiegel1, Bruna Imai1, Hannes Schmidt1, Karin Hage-Ahmed2, Erich M. Pötsch3, Andreas Richter1, Jan Jansa4, and Christina Kaiser1
Kian Jenab et al.
  • 1Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 2Department of Crop Sciences, Institute of Crop Protection, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
  • 3Agricultural Research and Education Centre, Raumberg-Gumpenstein, Irdning, Austria
  • 4Laboratory of Fungal Biology, Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) form mutualistic associations with roughly 70% of vascular plant species, supporting the nutrient acquisition of their host plants and deriving carbon in return. AMF and plant communities are linked to each other by host-specificity and the ecological selection of favorable nutrient and carbon trading strategies. Changing soil nutrient availabilities can affect both plant and AMF communities directly and also indirectly via the response of their partners.  We aimed to elucidate the combined response of AMF (belowground) and plant (aboveground) community compositions to changing soil nutrient availabilities.

We sampled soil and roots from a long-term nutrient deficiency experimental grassland in Admont (Styria, Austria). The grassland plots have been fertilized with different combinations of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) over 70 years. Aboveground biomass cuts were removed three times each year, leading to long-term deficiencies of nutrients not replaced by fertilizers. Soil and root AMF community compositions were measured by DNA and RNA amplicon sequencing of the 18S rRNA gene. In addition, we assessed the plant community composition of the sampled roots by amplicon sequencing of the chloroplast rbcL (RuBisCo large subunit) gene region, and visually recorded the plant community composition on each investigated plot.

Our results demonstrate that N and P deficiencies influenced soil AMF community composition, whereas K deficiency had a major impact on root AMF community composition. Interestingly, the plant community composition was affected by N and P, similar to the soil AMF community composition. Both, soil and root AMF community compositions were significantly correlated to plant community composition across all treatments, the correlation was however stronger for soil AMF communities (R2 = 0.55, p< 0.001). By using bipartite network analysis, we identified several fungus-plant pairs that responded consistently to treatments.

Our results indicate that the response of grasslands to nutrient deficiencies is potentially driven by strong feedbacks between plant and belowground AMF community compositions. We here demonstrate that the known interactions between grassland plants and AMF - which are often investigated from a single plant or monoculture perspective - are major drivers of how diverse plant community compositions will respond to environmental change, such as fertilization. In conclusion, considering the ecology of the subsurface AMF communities may strongly benefit our understanding of plant communities in a future environment.

How to cite: Jenab, K., Alteio, L., Gorka, S., Guseva, K., Darcy, S., Fuchslueger, L., Canarini, A., Martin, V., Wiesenbauer, J., Spiegel, F., Imai, B., Schmidt, H., Hage-Ahmed, K., Pötsch, E. M., Richter, A., Jansa, J., and Kaiser, C.: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and their associated plant communities jointly respond to long-term nutrient deficiencies in a managed grassland, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9220,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file