Specificity and resilience in the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi of a natural woodland community

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. While the composition of communities of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi can have a large effect on the performance of their plant hosts, but the role of individual fungal species in shaping this response is as yet unresolved. 2. We have used the fungicide benomyl to alter the community of AM fungi in undisturbed monoliths of soil in a natural community. Changes in the community were characterised by root colonisation (%RLC), cloning, sequencing and tRFLP of a partial SSUrDNA fragment. Eleven plant species were sufficiently abundant in the monoliths to be examined. 3. In the highly mycorrhiza-dependent perennial herb Ajuga reptans, phosphate concentration was significantly reduced after benomyl treatment over a full growing season. The other plant species showed low colonisation and no significant difference in phosphate concentration after benomyl treatment. 4. Although colonisation in A. reptans was reduced, many mycorrhizal fungi survived in the roots. Some became more abundant following fungicide treatment, suggesting competitive release. Fungi that increased were generalists that have been identified in field samples from published studies colonising a wide range of plant species. Those that declined were specialists with a narrow host range; five types had not been recorded previously in field samples. 5. AM fungi in this study differed greatly in their response to perturbation, independent of the identity of the host plant. If such functional diversity is widespread, then elucidating the part played by AM fungal diversity in regulating plant community structure will be key to our understanding and management of ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007

Bibliographical note

© 2007 The Authors and British Ecological Society. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Journal of Ecology.


  • arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Ajuga reptans
  • host range
  • Glomeromycota
  • phosphorous

Cite this