A meta-barcoding analysis of soil mycobiota of the upper Andean Colombian agro-environment.
ABSTRACT: Colombia is a country for which one of the highest biodiversity rates is reported, and one of the first in the tropical areas where an effort was made to gather information on indigenous fungi. Nevertheless, mycological data are still scarce and discontinuous, above all on soil fungi. The present study wanted to contribute to unveil the large soil fungal biodiversity in the upper Andean Colombian agro-ecosystems. The studied area is located in the department of Boyacà, considered with a notable economical value, partly devoted to subsistence agriculture. More than 150 described species were revealed in this study, belonging to 5 phyla with Ascomycota representing the dominant taxon. Basidiomycota and Zygomycota are also well represented, dominated by species of the genus Sebacina and Mortierella respectively, mainly distributed in the semi-natural plots (woodland and grassland). Most of the species are reported as first records for Colombia. Some of them are particularly interesting for their conservation significance such as Geoglossum fallax, which is the dominant species in the unimproved grassland plot. The bootstrap-based clustering analysis showed a different distribution of the species in orchards and non-cultivated areas as a possible response of the fungal community to different use of soil in the agro-environment.
Project description:Grassland degradation and the concomitant loss of soil organic carbon is widespread in tropical arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Afforestation of degraded grassland, sometimes by using invasive alien trees, has been put forward as a legitimate climate change mitigation strategy. However, even in cases where tree encroachment of degraded grasslands leads to increased soil organic carbon, it may come at a high cost since the restoration of grassland-characteristic biodiversity and ecosystem services will be blocked. We assessed how invasion by Prosopis juliflora and restoration of degraded grasslands in a semi-arid region in Baringo, Kenya affected soil organic carbon, biodiversity and fodder availability. Thirty years of grassland restoration replenished soil organic carbon to 1 m depth at a rate of 1.4% per year and restored herbaceous biomass to levels of pristine grasslands, while plant biodiversity remained low. Invasion of degraded grasslands by P. juliflora increased soil organic carbon primarily in the upper 30 cm and suppressed herbaceous vegetation. We argue that, in contrast to encroachment by invasive alien trees, restoration of grasslands in tropical semi-arid regions can both serve as a measure for climate change mitigation and help restore key ecosystem services important for pastoralists and agro-pastoralist communities.
Project description:Using native seed mixtures to create or recover grassland habitats in rotation to crops or in strips surrounding fields is considered a cost-effective practice to enhance ecosystem resilience and agro-biodiversity. The aim of this research was to assess the effects of native hayseed mixtures on plant and microarthropod communities in an agricultural area of Northern Italy. Three different experimental treatments were set up. The first was a control (C) (i.e., non-seeded plots left to spontaneous vegetation succession after ploughing no deeper than 15 cm). The second, hayseed seeded (Hs) after ploughing no deeper than 15 cm. The third experimental treatment was hayseed overseeded (Ov) on the resident plant community after only a superficial harrowing. Ov plots exhibited the preeminent positive effects on the total productivity and quality of the grassland in terms of total vegetation cover, cover and richness of typical grassland species (i.e., Molinio-Arrhenatheretea species), and cover of legumes, grasses and perennial species. Moreover, Ov sites exhibited the highest abundance of microarthropod taxa and soil biological quality (QBS-ar) but only in spring, when the disturbance of ploughing negatively affected Hs and C plots. On the other hand, Hs sites showed a great reduction of invasive alien (i.e., Ambrosia artemisiifolia and Artemisia verlotiorum) and segetal weed species (i.e., Capsella bursa-pastoris and Spergula arvensis) in terms of cover. This study provides valuable indication on using hayseed mixtures to create grassland habitats as reservoir of native flora and soil biodiversity in agriculture areas.
Project description:There are numerous ways in which plants can influence the composition of soil communities. However, it remains unclear whether information on plant community attributes, including taxonomic, phylogenetic, or trait-based composition, can be used to predict the structure of soil communities. We tested, in both monocultures and field-grown mixed temperate grassland communities, whether plant attributes predict soil communities including taxonomic groups from across the tree of life (fungi, bacteria, protists, and metazoa). The composition of all soil community groups was affected by plant species identity, both in monocultures and in mixed communities. Moreover, plant community composition predicted additional variation in soil community composition beyond what could be predicted from soil abiotic characteristics. In addition, analysis of the field aboveground plant community composition and the composition of plant roots suggests that plant community attributes are better predictors of soil communities than root distributions. However, neither plant phylogeny nor plant traits were strong predictors of soil communities in either experiment. Our results demonstrate that grassland plant species form specific associations with soil community members and that information on plant species distributions can improve predictions of soil community composition. These results indicate that specific associations between plant species and complex soil communities are key determinants of biodiversity patterns in grassland soils.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The importance of soil biota in the composition of mature plant communities is commonly acknowledged. In contrast, the role of soil biota in the early establishment of new plant communities and their relative importance for soil abiotic conditions are still poorly understood.<h4>Aims and methods</h4>The aim of this study was to understand the effects of soil origin and soil fungal communities on the composition of a newly established dry grassland plant community. We used soil from two different origins (dry grassland and abandoned field) with different pH and nutrient and mineral content. Grassland microcosms were established by sowing seeds of 54 species of dry grassland plants into the studied soils. To suppress soil fungi, half of the pots were regularly treated with fungicide. In this way, we studied the independent and combined effects of soil origin and soil community on the establishment of dry grassland communities.<h4>Key results</h4>The effect of suppressing the soil fungal community on the richness and composition of the plant communities was much stronger than the effect of soil origin. Contrary to our expectations, the effects of these two factors were largely additive, indicating the same degree of importance of soil fungal communities in the establishment of species-rich plant communities in the soils from both origins. The negative effect of suppressing soil fungi on species richness, however, occurred later in the soil from the abandoned field than in the soil from the grassland. This result likely occurred because the negative effects of the suppression of fungi in the field soil were caused mainly by changes in plant community composition and increased competition. In contrast, in the grassland soil, the absence of soil fungi was limiting for plants already at the early stages of their establishment, i.e., in the phases of germination and early recruitment. While fungicide affects not only arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi but also other biota, our data indicate that changes in the AMF communities are the most likely drivers of the observed changes. The effects of other soil biota, however, cannot be fully excluded.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These results suggest that the availability of soil fungi may not be the most important limiting factor for the establishment of grassland species in abandoned fields if we manage to reduce the intensity of competition at these sites e.g., by mowing or grazing.
Project description:Urban grasslands, landscapes dominated by turfgrasses for aesthetic or recreational groundcovers, are rapidly expanding in the United States and globally. These managed ecosystems are often less diverse than the natural or agricultural lands they replace, leading to potential losses in ecosystem functioning. Research in non-urban systems has provided evidence for increases in multiple ecosystem functions associated with greater plant diversity. To test if biodiversity-ecosystem function findings are applicable to urban grasslands, we examined the effect of plant species and genotypic diversity on three ecosystem functions, using grassland assemblages of increasing diversity that were grown within a controlled environment facility. We found positive effects of plant diversity on reduced nitrate leaching and plant productivity. Soil microbial diversity (Mean Shannon Diversity, H') of bacteria and fungi were also enhanced in multi-species plantings, suggesting that moderate increments in plant diversity influence the composition of soil biota. The results from this study indicate that plant diversity impacts multiple functions that are important in urban ecosystems; therefore, further tests of urban grassland biodiversity should be examined in situ to determine the feasibility of manipulating plant diversity as an explicit landscape design and function trait.
Project description:There are increasing calls to provide greenspace in urban areas, yet the ecological quality, as well as quantity, of greenspace is important. Short mown grassland designed for recreational use is the dominant form of urban greenspace in temperate regions but requires considerable maintenance and typically provides limited habitat value for most taxa. Alternatives are increasingly proposed, but the biodiversity potential of these is not well understood. In a replicated experiment across six public urban greenspaces, we used nine different perennial meadow plantings to quantify the relative roles of floristic diversity and height of sown meadows on the richness and composition of three taxonomic groups: plants, invertebrates, and soil microbes. We found that all meadow treatments were colonized by plant species not sown in the plots, suggesting that establishing sown meadows does not preclude further locally determined grassland development if management is appropriate. Colonizing species were rarer in taller and more diverse plots, indicating competition may limit invasion rates. Urban meadow treatments contained invertebrate and microbial communities that differed from mown grassland. Invertebrate taxa responded to changes in both height and richness of meadow vegetation, but most orders were more abundant where vegetation height was longer than mown grassland. Order richness also increased in longer vegetation and Coleoptera family richness increased with plant diversity in summer. Microbial community composition seems sensitive to plant species composition at the soil surface (0-10 cm), but in deeper soils (11-20 cm) community variation was most responsive to plant height, with bacteria and fungi responding differently. In addition to improving local residents' site satisfaction, native perennial meadow plantings can produce biologically diverse grasslands that support richer and more abundant invertebrate communities, and restructured plant, invertebrate, and soil microbial communities compared with short mown grassland. Our results suggest that diversification of urban greenspace by planting urban meadows in place of some mown amenity grassland is likely to generate substantial biodiversity benefits, with a mosaic of meadow types likely to maximize such benefits.
Project description:The long-term impact of human exploitation and environmental changes has led to a decline in grassland productivity and soil fertility, which eventually results in grassland degradation. The application of organic fertilizer is an effective improvement measure; however, it is still not fully understood how the addition of organic fertilizer influences grassland soil fertility and plant composition. A set of experiments were conducted in Inner Mongolia in China to reveal the tradeoff between steppe plants and soil microorganisms and the eco-physiological mechanisms involved, and how the addition of vermicompost and mushroom residues affect microbial diversity, enzyme activities, and the chemical properties of soil in degraded Leymus chinensis grassland. Organic fertilizer improved the soil nutrient status and shaped distinct bacterial communities. Compared with the control the available phosphorus (AP) and available potassium (AK) contents were highest under treatments a3 and b3, and the aboveground biomass was highest under the b3 treatment. Soil sucrase activities increased by 7.88% under the b3 treatment. Moreover, the richness index significantly increased by 7.07% and 7.23% under the a1 and b2 treatments, respectively. The most abundant Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria were detected in the organic fertilizer treatment. A linear discriminant analysis effect size (LEfSe) indicated that the bacterial community was significantly increased under the b3 treatment. A canonical correspondence analysis (RDA) and spearman correlation heatmap confirmed that total P (TP) and urease were the key driving factors for shaping bacterial communities in the soil. Our results indicated that the application of large amounts of vermicompost and mushroom residues increased the availability of nutrients and also enhanced the biodiversity of soil bacterial communities in L. chinensis grasslands, which will contribute to the sustainable development of agro-ecosystems.
Project description:Loss of belowground biodiversity by land-use change can have a great impact on ecosystem functions, yet appropriate investigations remain rare in high-elevation Tibetan ecosystems. We compared arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal communities in arable soils with those in native forest and grassland in southeast Tibet and investigated their potential contribution to carbon sequestration. The AM fungi were abundant and diverse. AM fungal diversity was significantly higher in grassland than in forest or arable land. Significant differences in AM fungal community composition were found among different land use types. The relative abundance of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in forest and grassland were positively related to glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP), soil organic carbon, macroaggregates, and the unprotected and physically protected carbon, while the AM fungal community in arable soils was dominated by a few OTUs which were positively linked to soil pH. Changes in GRSP content were closely related to water-stable macroaggregates and carbon storage in grassland and forest soils but not in arable soil. Given the inevitable trend toward agricultural management this study emphasizes the need to implement effective agricultural practices that can enhance AM fungal activity to maintain soil quality and carbon sequestration for the sustainable development of this fragile ecosystem.
Project description:Land use change alters biodiversity and soil quality and thus affects ecosystem functions. This study investigated the effects of changes in land use on major soil quality indicators. Soil samples were taken from a depth of 0-10?cm (top soil) under four major land uses (cropland, grassland, area exclosure, eucalyptus plantation) with similar land use change histories for analysis, and soil from a nearby natural forest was used as a reference. Land use change from natural forest to cropland and grassland significantly decreased major soil quality indicators such as soil organic C (SOC), total soil N (TSN), molybdate-reactive bicarbonate-extractable P, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) spore density, but compared to the cropland, change to area exclosure and eucalyptus plantation significantly improved SOC, TSN and soil aggregate stability (SAS). In addition, we assessed the correlation among indicators and found that SOC, TSN and SAS significantly correlate with many other soil quality indicators. The study highlights that the conversion of natural forest to cropland results in decline of soil quality and aggregate stability. However, compared to cropland, application of area exclosure and afforestation on degraded lands restores soil quality and aggregate stability.
Project description:Grassland for livestock production is a major form of land use throughout Europe and its intensive management threatens biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in agricultural landscapes. Modest increases to conventional grassland biodiversity could have considerable positive impacts on the provision of ecosystem services, such as pollination, to surrounding habitats.Using a field-scale experiment in which grassland seed mixes and sward management were manipulated, complemented by surveys on working farms and phytometer experiments, the impact of conventional grassland diversity and management on the functional diversity and ecosystem service provision of pollinator communities were investigated.Increasing plant richness, by the addition of both legumes and forbs, was associated with significant enhancements in the functional diversity of grassland pollinator communities. This was associated with increased temporal stability of flower-visitor interactions at the community level. Visitation networks revealed pasture species Taraxacum sp. (Wigg.) (dandelion) and Cirsium arvense (Scop.) (creeping thistle) to have the highest pollinator visitation frequency and richness. Cichorium intybus (L.) (chichory) was highlighted as an important species having both high pollinator visitation and desirable agronomic properties.Increased sward richness was associated with an increase in the pollination of two phytometer species; Fragaria × ananassa (strawberry) and Silene dioica (red campion), but not Vicia faba (broad bean). Enhanced functional diversity, richness and abundance of the pollinator communities associated with more diverse neighbouring pastures were found to be potential mechanisms for improved pollination. Synthesis and applications. A modest increase in conventional grassland plant diversity with legumes and forbs, achievable with the expertise and resources available to most grassland farmers, could enhance pollinator functional diversity, richness and abundance. Moreover, our results suggest that this could improve pollination services and consequently surrounding crop yields (e.g. strawberry) and wildflower reproduction in agro-ecosystems.