September 22, 2019  |  

Contrasting distribution patterns between aquatic and terrestrial Phytophthora species along a climatic gradient are linked to functional traits.

Diversity of microbial organisms is linked to global climatic gradients. The genus Phytophthora includes both aquatic and terrestrial plant pathogenic species that display a large variation of functional traits. The extent to which the physical environment (water or soil) modulates the interaction of microorganisms with climate is unknown. Here, we explored the main environmental drivers of diversity and functional trait composition of Phytophthora communities. Communities were obtained by a novel metabarcoding setup based on PacBio sequencing of river filtrates in 96 river sites along a geographical gradient. Species were classified as terrestrial or aquatic based on their phylogenetic clade. Overall, terrestrial and aquatic species showed contrasting patterns of diversity. For terrestrial species, precipitation was a stronger driver than temperature, and diversity and functional diversity decreased with decreasing temperature and precipitation. In cold and dry areas, the dominant species formed resistant structures and had a low optimum temperature. By contrast, for aquatic species, temperature and water chemistry were the strongest drivers, and diversity increased with decreasing temperature and precipitation. Within the same area, environmental filtering affected terrestrial species more strongly than aquatic species (20% versus 3% of the studied communities, respectively). Our results highlight the importance of functional traits and the physical environment in which microorganisms develop their life cycle when predicting their distribution under changing climatic conditions. Temperature and rainfall may be buffered differently by water and soil, and thus pose contrasting constrains to microbial assemblies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Impacts of experimentally accelerated forest succession on belowground plant and fungal communities

Understanding how soil processes, belowground plant and fungal species composition, and nutrient cycles are altered by disturbances is essential for understanding the role forests play in mitigating global climate change. Here we ask: How are root and fungal communities altered in a mid-successional forest during shifts in dominant tree species composition? This study utilizes the Forest Accelerated Succession ExperimenT (FASET) at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) as a platform for addressing this question. FASET consists of a 39-ha treatment in which all mature early successional aspen (Populus spp.) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera) were killed by stem-girdling in 2008. Four years after girdling, neither overall fungal diversity indices, plant diversity indices, nor root biomass differed between girdled (treated) and non-girdled (reference) stands. However, experimental advancement of succession by removal of aspen and birch resulted in 1) a shift in fungal functional groups, with significantly less ectomycorrhizal fungi, 2) a trend toward less arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and 3) a significant increase in the proportion of saprotrophs in girdled stands. In addition to shifts in functional groups between treated and untreated stands, ectomycorrhizal fungi proportions were negatively correlated with NH4+ and total dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in soil. This research illustrates the propensity for disturbances in forest ecosystems to shift fungal community composition, which has implications for carbon storage and nutrient cycling in soils under future climate scenarios.


September 22, 2019  |  

Soil microbial communities are shaped by plant-driven changes in resource availability during secondary succession.

Although we understand the ecological processes eliciting changes in plant community composition during secondary succession, we do not understand whether co-occurring changes in plant detritus shape saprotrophic microbial communities in soil. In this study, we investigated soil microbial composition and function across an old-field chronosequence ranging from 16 to 86 years following agricultural abandonment, as well as three forests representing potential late-successional ecosystems. Fungal and bacterial community composition was quantified from ribosomal DNA, and insight into the functional potential of the microbial community to decay plant litter was gained from shotgun metagenomics and extracellular enzyme assays. Accumulation of soil organic matter across the chronosequence exerted a positive and significant effect on fungal phylogenetic ß-diversity and the activity of extracellular enzymes with lignocellulolytic activity. In addition, the increasing abundance of lignin-rich C4 grasses was positively related to the composition of fungal genes with lignocellulolytic function, thereby linking plant community composition, litter biochemistry, and microbial community function. However, edaphic properties were the primary agent shaping bacterial communities, as bacterial ß-diversity and variation in functional gene composition displayed a significant and positive relationship to soil pH across the chronosequence. The late-successional forests were compositionally distinct from the oldest old fields, indicating that substantial changes occur in soil microbial communities as old fields give way to forests. Taken together, our observations demonstrate that plants govern the turnover of soil fungal communities and functional characteristics during secondary succession, due to the continual input of detritus and differences in litter biochemistry among plant species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of microbial profile of Koji using Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing technology.

Koji is a kind of Japanese traditional fermented starter that has been used for centuries. Many fermented foods are made from koji, such as sake, miso, and soy sauce. This study used the single molecule real-time sequencing technology (SMRT) to investigate the bacterial and fungal microbiota of 3 Japanese koji samples. After SMRT analysis, a total of 39121 high-quality sequences were generated, including 14354 bacterial and 24767 fungal sequence reads. The high-quality gene sequences were assigned to 5 bacterial and 2 fungal plyla, dominated by Proteobacteria and Ascomycota, respectively. At the genus level, Ochrobactrum and Wickerhamomyces were the most abundant bacterial and fungal genera, respectively. The predominant bacterial and fungal species were Ochrobactrum lupini and Wickerhamomyces anomalus, respectively. Our study profiled the microbiota composition of 3 Japanese koji samples to the species level precision. The results may be useful for further development of traditional fermented products, especially optimization of koji preparation. Meanwhile, this study has demonstrated that SMRT is a robust tool for analyzing the microbial composition in food samples.© 2017 Institute of Food Technologists®.


September 22, 2019  |  

Initial colonization, community assembly and ecosystem function: fungal colonist traits and litter biochemistry mediate decay rate.

Priority effects are an important ecological force shaping biotic communities and ecosystem processes, in which the establishment of early colonists alters the colonization success of later-arriving organisms via competitive exclusion and habitat modification. However, we do not understand which biotic and abiotic conditions lead to strong priority effects and lasting historical contingencies. Using saprotrophic fungi in a model leaf decomposition system, we investigated whether compositional and functional consequences of initial colonization were dependent on initial colonizer traits, resource availability or a combination thereof. To test these ideas, we factorially manipulated leaf litter biochemistry and initial fungal colonist identity, quantifying subsequent community composition, using neutral genetic markers, and community functional characteristics, including enzyme potential and leaf decay rates. During the first 3 months, initial colonist respiration rate and physiological capacity to degrade plant detritus were significant determinants of fungal community composition and leaf decay, indicating that rapid growth and lignolytic potential of early colonists contributed to altered trajectories of community assembly. Further, initial colonization on oak leaves generated increasingly divergent trajectories of fungal community composition and enzyme potential, indicating stronger initial colonizer effects on energy-poor substrates. Together, these observations provide evidence that initial colonization effects, and subsequent consequences on litter decay, are dependent upon substrate biochemistry and physiological traits within a regional species pool. Because microbial decay of plant detritus is important to global C storage, our results demonstrate that understanding the mechanisms by which initial conditions alter priority effects during community assembly may be key to understanding the drivers of ecosystem-level processes. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Complex effects of mammalian grazing on extramatrical mycelial biomass in the Scandes forest-tundra ecotone.

Mycorrhizal associations are widespread in high-latitude ecosystems and are potentially of great importance for global carbon dynamics. Although large herbivores play a key part in shaping subarctic plant communities, their impact on mycorrhizal dynamics is largely unknown. We measured extramatrical mycelial (EMM) biomass during one growing season in 16-year-old herbivore exclosures and unenclosed control plots (ambient), at three mountain birch forests and two shrub heath sites, in the Scandes forest-tundra ecotone. We also used high-throughput amplicon sequencing for taxonomic identification to investigate differences in fungal species composition. At the birch forest sites, EMM biomass was significantly higher in exclosures (1.36 ± 0.43 g C/m2) than in ambient conditions (0.66 ± 0.17 g C/m2) and was positively influenced by soil thawing degree-days. At the shrub heath sites, there was no significant effect on EMM biomass (exclosures: 0.72 ± 0.09 g C/m2; ambient plots: 1.43 ± 0.94). However, EMM biomass was negatively related toBetula nanaabundance, which was greater in exclosures, suggesting that grazing affected EMM biomass positively. We found no significant treatment effects on fungal diversity but the most abundant ectomycorrhizal lineage/cortinarius, showed a near-significant positive effect of herbivore exclusion (p = .08), indicating that herbivory also affects fungal community composition. These results suggest that herbivory can influence fungal biomass in highly context-dependent ways in subarctic ecosystems. Considering the importance of root-associated fungi for ecosystem carbon balance, these findings could have far-reaching implications.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of putative coffee rust mycoparasites using single molecule DNA sequencing of infected pustules.

The interaction of crop pests with their natural enemies is a fundament to their control. Natural enemies of fungal pathogens of crops are poorly known relative to those of insect pests despite the diversity of fungal pathogens and their economic importance. Currently, many regions across Latin America are experiencing unprecedented epidemics of coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix). Identification of natural enemies of coffee rust could aid in developing management strategies or in pinpointing species that could be used for biocontrol. Here we characterize fungal communities associated with coffee rust lesions by single molecule DNA sequencing of fungal ribosomal RNA barcodes from leaf discs (˜28 mm(2)) containing rust lesions and control discs with no rust lesions. The leaf disc communities were hyper-diverse in fungi, with up to 57 taxa per control disc, and the diversity was only slightly reduced in rust-infected discs. However, geography had a greater influence on the fungal community than whether the disk was infected by coffee rust. Through comparisons between control and rust-infected leaf discs, as well as taxonomic criteria, we identified 15 putative mycoparasitic fungi. These fungi are concentrated in fungal family Cordycipitaceae and order Tremellales. These data emphasize the complexity of fungal diversity of unknown ecological function within a leaf that might influence plant disease epidemics or lead to the development of species for biocontrol of fungal disease. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Anthropogenic N deposition alters the composition of expressed class II fungal peroxidases.

Here, we present evidence that ca. 20 years of experimental N deposition altered the composition of lignin-decaying class II peroxidases expressed by forest floor fungi, a response which has occurred concurrently with reductions in plant litter decomposition and a rapid accumulation of soil organic matter. This finding suggests that anthropogenic N deposition has induced changes in the biological mediation of lignin decay, the rate limiting step in plant litter decomposition. Thus, an altered composition of transcripts for a critical gene that is associated with terrestrial C cycling may explain the increased soil C storage under long-term increases in anthropogenic N deposition.IMPORTANCE Fungal class II peroxidases are enzymes that mediate the rate-limiting step in the decomposition of plant material, which involves the oxidation of lignin and other polyphenols. In field experiments, anthropogenic N deposition has increased soil C storage in forests, a result which could potentially arise from anthropogenic N-induced changes in the composition of class II peroxidases expressed by the fungal community. In this study, we have gained unique insight into how anthropogenic N deposition, a widespread agent of global change, affects the expression of a functional gene encoding an enzyme that plays a critical role in a biologically mediated ecosystem process. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Atmospheric N deposition increases bacterial laccase-like multicopper oxidases: implications for organic matter decay.

Anthropogenic release of biologically available nitrogen (N) has increased dramatically over the last 150 years, which can alter the processes controlling carbon (C) storage in terrestrial ecosystems. In a northern hardwood forest ecosystem located in Michigan in the United States, nearly 20 years of experimentally increased atmospheric N deposition has reduced forest floor decay and increased soil C storage. This change occurred concomitantly with compositional changes in Basidiomycete fungi and in Actinobacteria, as well as the downregulation of fungal lignocelluloytic genes. Recently, laccase-like multicopper oxidases (LMCOs) have been discovered among bacteria which can oxidize ß-O-4 linkages in phenolic compounds (e.g., lignin and humic compounds), resulting in the production of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Here, we examined how nearly 2 decades of experimental N deposition has affected the abundance and composition of saprotrophic bacteria possessing LMCO genes. In our experiment, LMCO genes were more abundant in the forest floor under experimental N deposition whereas the abundances of bacteria and fungi were unchanged. Experimental N deposition also led to less-diverse, significantly altered bacterial and LMCO gene assemblages, with taxa implicated in organic matter decay (i.e., Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria) accounting for the majority of compositional changes. These results suggest that experimental N deposition favors bacteria in the forest floor that harbor the LMCO gene and represents a plausible mechanism by which anthropogenic N deposition has reduced decomposition, increased soil C storage, and accelerated phenolic DOC production in our field experiment. Our observations suggest that future rates of atmospheric N deposition could fundamentally alter the physiological potential of soil microbial communities. Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Shift in fungal communities and associated enzyme activities along an age gradient of managed Pinus sylvestris stands.

Forestry reshapes ecosystems with respect to tree age structure, soil properties and vegetation composition. These changes are likely to be paralleled by shifts in microbial community composition with potential feedbacks on ecosystem functioning. Here, we assessed fungal communities across a chronosequence of managed Pinus sylvestris stands and investigated correlations between taxonomic composition and extracellular enzyme activities. Not surprisingly, clear-cutting had a negative effect on ectomycorrhizal fungal abundance and diversity. In contrast, clear-cutting favoured proliferation of saprotrophic fungi correlated with enzymes involved in holocellulose decomposition. During stand development, the re-establishing ectomycorrhizal fungal community shifted in composition from dominance by Atheliaceae in younger stands to Cortinarius and Russula species in older stands. Late successional ectomycorrhizal taxa correlated with enzymes involved in mobilisation of nutrients from organic matter, indicating intensified nutrient limitation. Our results suggest that maintenance of functional diversity in the ectomycorrhizal fungal community may sustain long-term forest production by retaining a capacity for symbiosis-driven recycling of organic nutrient pools.


September 22, 2019  |  

Fungal ITS1 deep-sequencing strategies to reconstruct the composition of a 26-species community and evaluation of the gut mycobiota of healthy Japanese individuals.

The study of mycobiota remains relatively unexplored due to the lack of sufficient available reference strains and databases compared to those of bacterial microbiome studies. Deep sequencing of Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) regions is the de facto standard for fungal diversity analysis. However, results are often biased because of the wide variety of sequence lengths in the ITS regions and the complexity of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies. In this study, a curated ITS database, ntF-ITS1, was constructed. This database can be utilized for the taxonomic assignment of fungal community members. We evaluated the efficacy of strategies for mycobiome analysis by using this database and characterizing a mock fungal community consisting of 26 species representing 15 genera using ITS1 sequencing with three HTS platforms: Illumina MiSeq (MiSeq), Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (IonPGM), and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio). Our evaluation demonstrated that PacBio’s circular consensus sequencing with greater than 8 full-passes most accurately reconstructed the composition of the mock community. Using this strategy for deep-sequencing analysis of the gut mycobiota in healthy Japanese individuals revealed two major mycobiota types: a single-species type composed of Candida albicans or Saccharomyces cerevisiae and a multi-species type. In this study, we proposed the best possible processing strategies for the three sequencing platforms, of which, the PacBio platform allowed for the most accurate estimation of the fungal community. The database and methodology described here provide critical tools for the emerging field of mycobiome studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Active microorganisms in forest soils differ from the total community yet are shaped by the same environmental factors: the influence of pH and soil moisture.

Predicting the impact of environmental change on soil microbial functions requires an understanding of how environmental factors shape microbial composition. Here, we investigated the influence of environmental factors on bacterial and fungal communities across an expanse of northern hardwood forest in Michigan, USA, which spans a 500-km regional climate gradient. We quantified soil microbial community composition using high-throughput DNA sequencing on coextracted rDNA (i.e. total community) and rRNA (i.e. active community). Within both bacteria and fungi, total and active communities were compositionally distinct from one another across the regional gradient (bacteria P = 0.01; fungi P < 0.01). Taxonomically, the active community was a subset of the total community. Compositional differences between total and active communities reflected changes in the relative abundance of dominant taxa. The composition of both the total and active microbial communities varied by site across the gradient (P < 0.01) and was shaped by differences in soil moisture, pH, SOM carboxyl content, as well as C and N concentration. Our study highlights the importance of distinguishing between metabolically active microorganisms and the total community, and emphasizes that the same environmental factors shape the total and active communities of bacteria and fungi in this ecosystem.© FEMS 2016. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multiscale patterns and drivers of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the roots and root-associated soil of a wild perennial herb.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi form diverse communities and are known to influence above-ground community dynamics and biodiversity. However, the multiscale patterns and drivers of AM fungal composition and diversity are still poorly understood. We sequenced DNA markers from roots and root-associated soil from Plantago lanceolata plants collected across multiple spatial scales to allow comparison of AM fungal communities among neighbouring plants, plant subpopulations, nearby plant populations, and regions. We also measured soil nutrients, temperature, humidity, and community composition of neighbouring plants and nonAM root-associated fungi. AM fungal communities were already highly dissimilar among neighbouring plants (c. 30 cm apart), albeit with a high variation in the degree of similarity at this small spatial scale. AM fungal communities were increasingly, and more consistently, dissimilar at larger spatial scales. Spatial structure and environmental drivers explained a similar percentage of the variation, from 7% to 25%. A large fraction of the variation remained unexplained, which may be a result of unmeasured environmental variables, species interactions and stochastic processes. We conclude that AM fungal communities are highly variable among nearby plants. AM fungi may therefore play a major role in maintaining small-scale variation in community dynamics and biodiversity.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Melanization of mycorrhizal fungal necromass structures microbial decomposer communities

Mycorrhizal fungal necromass is increasingly recognized as an important contributor to soil organic carbon pools, particularly in forest ecosystems. While its decomposition rate is primarily determined by biochemical composition, how traits such as melanin content affect the structure of necromass decomposer communities remains poorly understood. To assess the role of biochemical traits on microbial decomposer community composition and functioning, we incubated melanized and non-melanized necromass of the mycorrhizal fungus Meliniomyces bicolor in Pinus- and Quercus-dominated forests in Minnesota, USA and then assessed the associated fungal and bacterial decomposer communities after 1, 2 and 3 months using high-throughput sequencing. Melanized necromass decomposed significantly slower than non-melanized necromass in both forests. The structure of the microbial decomposer communities depended significantly on necromass melanin content, although the effect was stronger for fungi than bacteria. On non-melanized necromass, fungal communities were dominated by r-selected ascomycete and mucoromycete microfungi early and then replaced by basidiomycete ectomycorrhizal fungi, while on melanized necromass these groups were co-dominant throughout the incubation. Bacterial communities were dominated by both specialist mycophageous and generalist taxa. Synthesis. Our results indicate that necromass biochemistry not only strongly affects rates of decomposition but also the structure of the associated decomposer communities. Furthermore, the observed colonization patterns suggest that fungi, and particularly ectomycorrhizal fungi, may play a more important role in necromass decomposition than previously recognized.


September 22, 2019  |  

PCR and omics based techniques to study the diversity, ecology and biology of anaerobic fungi: Insights, challenges andopportunities.

Anaerobic fungi (phylum Neocallimastigomycota) are common inhabitants of the digestive tract of mammalian herbivores, and in the rumen, can account for up to 20% of the microbial biomass. Anaerobic fungi play a primary role in the degradation of lignocellulosic plant material. They also have a syntrophic interaction with methanogenic archaea, which increases their fiber degradation activity. To date, nine anaerobic fungal genera have been described, with further novel taxonomic groupings known to exist based on culture-independent molecular surveys. However, the true extent of their diversity may be even more extensively underestimated as anaerobic fungi continue being discovered in yet unexplored gut and non-gut environments. Additionally many studies are now known to have used primers that provide incomplete coverage of the Neocallimastigomycota. For ecological studies the internal transcribed spacer 1 region (ITS1) has been the taxonomic marker of choice, but due to various limitations the large subunit rRNA (LSU) is now being increasingly used. How the continued expansion of our knowledge regarding anaerobic fungal diversity will impact on our understanding of their biology and ecological role remains unclear; particularly as it is becoming apparent that anaerobic fungi display niche differentiation. As a consequence, there is a need to move beyond the broad generalization of anaerobic fungi as fiber-degraders, and explore the fundamental differences that underpin their ability to exist in distinct ecological niches. Application of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics to their study in pure/mixed cultures and environmental samples will be invaluable in this process. To date the genomes and transcriptomes of several characterized anaerobic fungal isolates have been successfully generated. In contrast, the application of proteomics and metabolomics to anaerobic fungal analysis is still in its infancy. A central problem for all analyses, however, is the limited functional annotation of anaerobic fungal sequence data. There is therefore an urgent need to expand information held within publicly available reference databases. Once this challenge is overcome, along with improved sample collection and extraction, the application of these techniques will be key in furthering our understanding of the ecological role and impact of anaerobic fungi in the wide range of environments they inhabit.


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