Forest age and plant species composition determine the soil fungal community composition in a Chinese subtropical forest

Yu Ting Wu, Tesfaye Wubet, Stefan Trogisch, Sabine Both, Thomas Scholten, Helge Bruelheide, Francois Buscot

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Fungal diversity and community composition are mainly related to soil and vegetation factors. However, the relative contribution of the different drivers remains largely unexplored, especially in subtropical forest ecosystems. We studied the fungal diversity and community composition of soils sampled from 12 comparative study plots representing three forest age classes (Young: 10-40 yrs; Medium: 40-80 yrs; Old: ≥80 yrs) in Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in South-eastern China. Soil fungal communities were assessed employing ITS rDNA pyrotag sequencing. Members of Basidiomycota and Ascomycota dominated the fungal community, with 22 putative ectomycorrhizal fungal families, where Russulaceae and Thelephoraceae were the most abundant taxa. Analysis of similarity showed that the fungal community composition significantly differed among the three forest age classes. Forest age class, elevation of the study plots, and soil organic carbon (SOC) were the most important factors shaping the fungal community composition. We found a significant correlation between plant and fungal communities at different taxonomic and functional group levels, including a strong relationship between ectomycorrhizal fungal and non-ectomycorrhizal plant communities. Our results suggest that in subtropical forests, plant species community composition is the main driver of the soil fungal diversity and community composition.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66829
Number of pages12
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2013



  • plant
  • symbiosis
  • fungi
  • microbiome

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