MSA - Ecology/Pathology
Sthultz, Christopher , Whitham, Thomas , Gehring, Catherine A. .
Plant genetics alter ectomycorrhizal community composition, which feeds back to influence plant performance.
Understanding the genetic components of community structure and how different communities might feed back to affect the performance of foundation species are key issues in ecology and evolution. Genetic influences on below-ground microbial communities may be particularly important because of their large impacts on a variety of ecosystem processes. Findings of a recent study showed that genetic variation in pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) resulted in differences in ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) community composition. We tested those findings using a factorial design greenhouse experiment, aimed to test the relative influences of genetics (seed source) and the environment (soil source) on EMF development of P. edulis seedlings. Our experiment demonstrated four major findings. 1) Seed source had a much stronger influence on EMF community composition than soil source. Seedlings grown from moth resistant mothers had different communities than seedlings grown from moth susceptible mothers, regardless of the type of soil the seedlings were grown in. 2) Seedlings grown from moth resistant mothers had EMF communities similar to mature moth resistant trees in the field, regardless of the type of soil they are grown in. A similar pattern is found for seedlings grown from moth susceptible mothers. 3) Seedling grown from moth resistant trees had lower total biomass then seedlings grown from moth susceptible trees, while there was no influence of soil source on plant performance. 4) Total seedlings biomass was strongly correlated with the EMF community composition. These findings strengthen the argument that the genetic structure of a foundation tree species can have a significant affect on EMF community structure. We also demonstrate potential feedbacks between plant and EMF community phenotypes that could explain important links between plant genes and below-ground microbes involved in ecosystem functioning.
Log in to add this item to your schedule
1 - Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive CNRS, Umr 5175, 1919 Route de Mende, Montpellier, 34 293 , France
2 - Northern Arizona University, Biological Sciences, PO Box 5640, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011, USA
3 - Northern Arizona University , Department of Biological Sciences, PO Box 5640, Flagstaff, AZ , 86011, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Location: Cottonwood B/Snowbird Center
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Time: 9:30 AM