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Host identity and functional traits determine the community composition of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in facultative epiphytic plant species

Alguacil, M.M., Díaz, G., Torres, P., Rodríguez-Caballero, G., Roldán, A.
Fungal ecology 2019 v.39 pp. 307-315
Phoenix dactylifera, community structure, ecosystems, epiphytes, indicator species, indigenous species, introduced species, mycobiota, mycorrhizal fungi, perennials, soil quality
The epiphytic vascular mycobiota is scarce and facultative in semi-arid Mediterranean ecosystems. However, unlike in soil conditions, little is known about the factors driving mycorrhizal communities in epiphytic environments. Here, we investigated the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) harboured by 31 plant species occurring on the trunks of Phoenix dactylifera. We wanted to ascertain if host identity and plant functional traits shape mycorrhizal communities. Specifically, we tested the plant life-cycle (perennial versus annual), the plant life-form (herbaceous versus woody), the plant origin (exotic versus native) and the plant species. The plant affiliation to species strongly influenced the AMF community composition. Plant life-form and plant life-cycle also shaped indicator taxa. The AMF structure differed between annual and perennial species and higher AMF richness was detected in perennial plants. The epiphytic plants associated with AMF irrespective of whether they were native or not, probably because here no functional differences derive from plant origin.