Network modules and hubs in plant-root fungal biomes

Hirokazu Toju, Satoshi Yamamoto, Akifumi S. Tanabe, Takashi Hayakawa, Hiroshi S. Ishii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Terrestrial plants host phylogenetically and functionally diverse groups of below-ground microbes, whose community structure controls plant growth/ survival in both natural and agricultural ecosystems. Therefore, understanding the processes by which whole root-associated microbiomes are organized is one of the major challenges in ecology and plant science. We here report that diverse root-associated fungi can form highly compartmentalized networks of coexistence within host roots and that the structure of the fungal symbiont communities can be partitioned into semi-discrete types even within a single host plant population. Illumina sequencing of root-associated fungi in a monodominant south beech forest revealed that the network representing symbiont-symbiont co-occurrence patterns was compartmentalized into clear modules, which consisted of diverse functional groups of mycorrhizal and endophytic fungi. Consequently, terminal roots of the plantwere colonized by either of the two largest fungal species sets (represented by Oidiodendron or Cenococcum). Thus, species-rich root microbiomes can have alternative community structures, as recently shown in the relationships between human gut microbiome type (i.e. 'enterotype') and host individual health. This study also shows an analytical framework for pinpointing network hubs in symbiont-symbiont networks, leading to the working hypothesis that a small number of microbial species organize the overall root-microbiome dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20151097
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number116
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative stable states
  • Community ecology
  • Enterotypes
  • Illumina MiSeq
  • Mutualism
  • Network theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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