The effects of tillage on species richness andcomposition of soil basidiomycetes in agroecosystems

Lynch, M.D. and R.G. Thorn.

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (2004-10-08 )

A molecular approach was used to analyze the composition of communities of soil basidiomycetes in Kellogg Biological Station LTER agroecosystems that differ in tillage history. This approach combined soil DNA extraction using a FastPrep method modified to increase recovery of fungal DNA, PCR amplification using basidiomycete-specific primers, cloning and RFLP screening of mixed PCR products, and sequencing of unique PCR products. These fungi, primarily responsible for lignocellulose degradation in plant litter, are not easily cultured from soil and thus have been greatly under-represented in surveys of soil fungi.  Shannon diversity, H’, was largest in never tilled (4.08/3.76 June/October sampling), similar in historically tilled (3.34/3.60) and no till regimes (3.15/3.24), and smallest in conventional till (2.96/2.10).  A significant (p < 0.01) effect of both date (June and October) and treatment (tillage) was found using the FST algorithm.  A high degree of genetic, therefore functional diversity was found in the treatments, inversely proportional to the magnitude  of disturbance.  This molecular approach should facilitate investigations in soil fungal diversity by avoiding issues surrounding traditional culture methods and provide insight to the community structure of soil basidiomycetes, and their sensitivity to disturbance by tillage.

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