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MacColl, Kevin [1], Tosi, Micaela [2], Dunfield, Kari [3], Maherali, Hafiz [4].

Evidence for increased arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal species richness and convergence in community composition in response to prairie restorations on marginal agricultural lands.

Prairie restoration projects can be an effective method of reclaiming ecosystems that have been disturbed by human activities, but a majority of evidence evaluates aboveground rather than belowground consequences of restoration. For example, agricultural ecosystems that have been restored with prairie grasslands can undergo relatively rapid recovery in terms of plant and animal diversity, but less is known about the recovery of soil microbial communities. In this study, we focussed on the recovery of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, an ecologically important group of soil microbes that play a central role in nutrient cycling and primary productivity by forming nutritional mutualisms with most plant species. To assess the recovery of AM fungi in restored prairies, we sampled AM fungal abundance and community composition in soils and plant roots at farm sites where portions of farmland had been converted to grassland prairie. This design allowed for direct comparison of AM fungal communities still under cultivation, with communities undergoing recovery in the adjacent prairie. We also sampled at nearby conservation areas to contrast our observations in restored prairies and cultivated fields with relatively less disturbed sites. Communities undergoing recovery in restored prairies showed dramatic increases in spore abundance, and generally increased in species richness. Community compositional changes also occurred, as species from the genera Claroideoglomus and Diversispora significantly increased in abundance in restored prairies, compared to corresponding cultivated plots, across most sites. These genera were present in relatively low abundance at conservation areas, suggesting that restored prairies may comprise a distinct soil habitat with a characteristic assemblage of species. Our study is the first to record such a consistent compositional change in AM fungi undergoing recovery in restored agricultural prairies. These findings further demonstrate the success of prairie restorations by showing how the restoration of above-ground communities can also promote the recovery of below-ground microbial abundance and diversity.

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1 - University of Guelph, Integrative Biology, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1
2 - University of Guelph, Environmental Science, 50 Stone Road E, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada
3 - University of Guelph, Environmental Science, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1
4 - University Of Guelph, Department Of Integrative Biology, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: MY7, Mycology: Fungus-Plant Interactions: Arbuscular Mycorrhizae, Climate Change, and Microbiome
Location: /
Date: Friday, July 23rd, 2021
Time: 10:45 AM(EDT)
Number: MY7004
Abstract ID:722
Candidate for Awards:None

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