Herbivory and Soil Water Availability Induce Changes in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Abundance and Composition

Cassandra M. Allsup, Richard A. Lankau, Ken N. Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We tested the prediction that abundance and composition of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in Ipomopsis aggregata roots and soils are influenced by ungulate herbivory and drought conditions by examining the effects in a field setting over two years. We used a multi-metric approach to quantify AMF root colonization, AMF reproduction, and AMF community composition in roots and soils. We incorporated complimentary community characterization assays by morphologically identifying spores from trap cultures and the use of terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) fingerprinting. Herbivory caused a twofold increase in spore production, an increase in AMF taxa diversity in roots, and a shift in AMF species composition in rhizosphere soils. The impact of herbivory was dependent on water availability, which differed in the two contrasting years. This study demonstrates that both soil water availability and herbivory shape arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi communities. The changes to mycorrhizal communities may help in understanding mycorrhizal function in changing climates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-152
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number1
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Drought
  • Glomeromycota
  • Herbivory
  • Soil water availability
  • T-RFLP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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