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Phylogenetic imprint of woody plants on the soil mycobiome in natural mountain forests of eastern China

The ISME Journalvolume 13pages686697 (2019) | Download Citation


Recent studies have detected strong phylogenetic signals in tree–fungus associations for diseased leaves and mycorrhizal symbioses. However, the extent of plant phylogenetic constraints on the free-living soil mycobiome remains unknown, especially at broad geographic scales. Here, 343 soil samples were collected adjacent to individual tree trunks, representing 58 woody plant species located in five mountain forests of eastern China. Integrating plant species identity and phylogenetic information, we aimed to unravel the relative contributions of phylogenetic relationships among tree species, abiotic environmental filtering, and geographic isolation to the geographic distribution of soil mycobiome. We found that the community dissimilarities of total fungi and each dominant guild (viz. saprotrophs, plant pathogens, and ectomycorrhizal fungi) significantly increased with increasing plant phylogenetic distance. Plant phylogenetic eigenvectors explained 11.4% of the variation in community composition, whereas environmental and spatial factors explained 24.1% and 7.2% of the variation, respectively. The communities of ectomycorrhizal fungi and plant pathogens were relatively more strongly affected by plant phylogeny than those of saprotrophs (13.7% and 10.4% vs. 8.5%). Overall, our results demonstrate how plant phylogeny, environment, and geographic space contribute to forest soil fungal distributions and suggest that the influence of plant phylogeny on fungal association may differ by guilds.

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We are grateful to Yuying Ma, Yingying Ni, Liang Chen for assistance in soil sampling and laboratory assays, and Jianfei Ye, Bing Liu, Luxian Liu, Xiaoming Zheng, Ji Ye, Zhanqing Hao for assistance with vegetation survey. We also thank Sergei Põlme and Xu Liu for assistance with statistical analyses. This work was supported by the NSFC-NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity program (31461123001), the Strategic Priority Research Program (XDB 15010101) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Program on Key Basic Research Project (2014CB954002), US National Science Foundation grant DEB-1442280 to PSS and DES, and the China Biodiversity Observation Networks (Sino BON).

Author information


  1. State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, East Beijing Road 71, Nanjing, 210008, China

    • Teng Yang
    • , Yu Shi
    • , Hongfei Wang
    • , Yuntao Li
    •  & Haiyan Chu
  2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China

    • Teng Yang
  3. Natural History Museum, University of Tartu, 14a Ravila, Tartu, 50411, Estonia

    • Leho Tedersoo
  4. Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA

    • Pamela S. Soltis
    • , Douglas E. Soltis
    •  & Miao Sun
  5. Department of Ecology and Evolution, and Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA

    • Jack A. Gilbert
  6. State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100093, China

    • Jian Zhang
    •  & Zhiduan Chen
  7. Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife of the Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310058, China

    • Hanyang Lin
    • , Yunpeng Zhao
    •  & Chengxin Fu


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Correspondence to Haiyan Chu.

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