Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-119
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-119
02 Feb 2024
 | 02 Feb 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Ectomycorrhizal fungal network complexity determines soil multi-enzymatic activity

Jorge Prieto-Rubio, José Luis Garrido, Julio M. Alcántara, Concepción Azcón-Aguilar, Ana Rincón, and Álvaro López-García

Abstract. Soil functioning is intrinsically related to the structure of associated biological communities. This link is barely understood under the multi-species context of soil microbial communities, which often requires complex analytical approaches to discern into structural and functional roles of microbial taxa inhabiting the soil. To investigate these ecological properties, we characterized the assembly and soil functioning contribution of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal communities through co-occurrence network analysis. Co-occurrence networks were inferred from ECM root-tips of Quercus spp. and Cistus albidus on a regional scale, in Mediterranean mixed forests. Soil enzymatic activities related to carbon and nutrient cycling were measured, and soil functionality outcomes related to ECM fungal network structure were evaluated from community-to-taxon level. Network complexity relied on habitat characteristics and seasonality, and it was linked to different dominant ECM fungal linages across habitats. Soil enzymatic activities were habitat-dependent, driven by host plant identity and fungi with reduced structuring roles in the co-occurrence network (mainly within Thelephorales, Sebacinales, Pezizales). ECM fungal co-occurrence network structure and functioning were highly context-dependent pointing to divergent regional fungal species pools according to their niche preferences. As increased network complexity was not related to greater soil functionality, functional redundancy might be operating in Mediterranean forest soils. The revealed differentiation between structural and functional roles of ECM fungi adds new insights into the understanding of soil fungal community assembly and its functionality in ecosystems.

Jorge Prieto-Rubio, José Luis Garrido, Julio M. Alcántara, Concepción Azcón-Aguilar, Ana Rincón, and Álvaro López-García

Status: open (until 23 Mar 2024)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-119', César Marín, 26 Feb 2024 reply
Jorge Prieto-Rubio, José Luis Garrido, Julio M. Alcántara, Concepción Azcón-Aguilar, Ana Rincón, and Álvaro López-García
Jorge Prieto-Rubio, José Luis Garrido, Julio M. Alcántara, Concepción Azcón-Aguilar, Ana Rincón, and Álvaro López-García

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Short summary
Changes in soil biological activity when species interact remain yet little understood. To address this, we approach network analyses on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities. The study highlights how distinct fungi contribute to explain community structure whilst others mainly do for soil enzymatic activity. This differentiation between structural and functional roles of ectomycorrhizal fungi adds new insights to understand soil fungal community assembly and its functionality in soils.