Belowground Fungal Community Change Associated with Ecosystem Development
Pineda Tuiran, Rosana P.
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Numerous studies have looked at biotic succession at the aboveground level; however, there are no studies describing fungal community change associated with long-term ecosystem development. To understand ecosystem development, the organisms responsible for shaping and driving these systems and their relationships with the vegetation and soil factors, it is critical to provide insight into aboveground and belowground linkages to ultimately include this new information into ecosystem theory. I hypothesized that fungal communities would change with pedogenesis, that these changes would correlate with vegetation community change, and that they should show change of composition and diversity as the seasons change. Chapter 1 discusses the main topics related to this dissertation. Chapter 2 includes a publication draft that describes a study of sand-dune soil samples from northern Michigan that were analyzed to pinpoint the structural change in the fungal community during the development of the ecosystem. The samples were analyzed by pyrosequencing the soil DNA, targeting the internal transcribed spacer region. Chapter 3 contains a coauthored published paper that describes plant invasion of fields in Virginia to determine how they impact soil bacterial and fungal communities. The bacterial and fungal communities that were invaded by 3 different plant species exhibited similar changes, regardless of plant species, suggesting that some functional traits of invasives may have similar impacts on belowground communities. Chapter 4 remarks the conclusions of this research.
General Audience Abstract
Ecosystems, including the soils underneath, are the environments that surround us perform a large number of critical human-relevant functions (playing roles in production of food, filtration of water for drinking, sequestration of carbon and nitrogen to build soil organic matter, and buffer against flooding). Yet, how these systems naturally develop over time are still in need of detailed study. One particular area of interest and need is the study of belowground fungal communities. It is not commonly known, but plants and ecosystems are highly dependent on the underground web of fungal hyphae that transform nutrients and provide water to plants. A first step in gaining this understanding utilized a natural ecosystem development gradient known as a chronosequence. It was expected that fungal communities would change as soil and ecosystem development progressed and that they would mimic changes in soil and vegetative properties. Discerning if these linkages occur is the first step to assessing how they work together to create ecosystems and their valuable environmental services. Chapter 1 provides a discussion of the main topics in this dissertation. Chapter 2 is at the heart of the dissertation via a study of fungal communities in a developmental soil ecosystem in northern Michigan in addition, in Chapter 3, I include a coauthored published paper that describes plant invasion of fields in Virginia. Chapter 4 remarks on the major conclusions of this Master thesis, supporting the role that vegetation and fungal community change in soil are associated with one another.
- Masters Theses