Soil microclimate is a potentially important regulator of the composition of plant-associated fungal communities in climates with significant drought periods. Here, we investigated the spatio-temporal dynamics of soil fungal communities in a Mediterranean Pinus pinaster forest in relation to soil moisture and temperature. Fungal communities in 336 soil samples collected monthly over 1 year from 28 long-term experimental plots were assessed by PacBio sequencing of ITS2 amplicons. Total fungal biomass was estimated by analysing ergosterol. Community changes were analysed in the context of functional traits. Soil fungal biomass was lowest during summer and late winter and highest during autumn, concurrent with a greater relative abundance of mycorrhizal species. Intra-annual spatio-temporal changes in community composition correlated significantly with soil moisture and temperature. Mycorrhizal fungi were less affected by summer drought than free-living fungi. In particular, mycorrhizal species of the short-distance exploration type increased in relative abundance under dry conditions, whereas species of the long-distance exploration type were more abundant under wetter conditions. Our observations demonstrate a potential for compositional and functional shifts in fungal communities in response to changing climatic conditions. Free-living fungi and mycorrhizal species with extensive mycelia may be negatively affected by increasing drought periods in Mediterranean forest ecosystems.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.
Journal: The New phytologist