Network hubs in root-associated fungal metacommunities

Hirokazu Toju, Akifumi S. Tanabe, Hirotoshi Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although a number of recent studies have uncovered remarkable diversity of microbes associated with plants, understanding and managing dynamics of plant microbiomes remain major scientific challenges. In this respect, network analytical methods have provided a basis for exploring "hub" microbial species, which potentially organize community-scale processes of plant-microbe interactions. Methods: By compiling Illumina sequencing data of root-associated fungi in eight forest ecosystems across the Japanese Archipelago, we explored hubs within "metacommunity-scale" networks of plant-fungus associations. In total, the metadata included 8080 fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) detected from 227 local populations of 150 plant species/taxa. Results: Few fungal OTUs were common across all the eight forests. However, in each of the metacommunity-scale networks representing northern four localities or southern four localities, diverse mycorrhizal, endophytic, and pathogenic fungi were classified as "metacommunity hubs," which were detected from diverse host plant taxa throughout a climatic region. Specifically, Mortierella (Mortierellales), Cladophialophora (Chaetothyriales), Ilyonectria (Hypocreales), Pezicula (Helotiales), and Cadophora (incertae sedis) had broad geographic and host ranges across the northern (cool-temperate) region, while Saitozyma/Cryptococcus (Tremellales/Trichosporonales) and Mortierella as well as some arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi were placed at the central positions of the metacommunity-scale network representing warm-temperate and subtropical forests in southern Japan. Conclusions: The network theoretical framework presented in this study will help us explore prospective fungi and bacteria, which have high potentials for agricultural application to diverse plant species within each climatic region. As some of those fungal taxa with broad geographic and host ranges have been known to promote the survival and growth of host plants, further studies elucidating their functional roles are awaited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 23
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Host specificity or preference
  • Latitudinal gradients
  • Metacommunities
  • Microbial inoculation
  • Mycorrhizal and endophytic symbiosis
  • Network hubs
  • Plant-fungus interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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