Structural diversity across arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal, and endophytic plant-fungus networks

Hirokazu Toju, Hirotoshi Sato, Satoshi Yamamoto, Akifumi S. Tanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Below-ground linkage between plant and fungal communities is one of the major drivers of terrestrial ecosystem dynamics. However, we still have limited knowledge of how such plant-fungus associations vary in their community-scale properties depending on fungal functional groups and geographic locations. Methods: By compiling a high-throughput sequencing dataset of root-associated fungi in eight forests along the Japanese Archipelago, we performed a comparative analysis of arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal, and saprotrophic/endophytic associations across a latitudinal gradient from cool-temperate to subtropical regions. Results: In most of the plant-fungus networks analyzed, host-symbiont associations were significantly specialized but lacked "nested" architecture, which has been commonly reported in plant-pollinator and plant-seed disperser networks. In particular, the entire networks involving all functional groups of plants and fungi and partial networks consisting of ectomycorrhizal plant and fungal species/taxa displayed "anti-nested" architecture (i.e., negative nestedness scores) in many of the forests examined. Our data also suggested that geographic factors affected the organization of plant-fungus network structure. For example, the southernmost subtropical site analyzed in this study displayed lower network-level specificity of host-symbiont associations and higher (but still low) nestedness than northern localities. Conclusions: Our comparative analyses suggest that arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal, and saprotrophic/endophytic plant-fungus associations often lack nested network architecture, while those associations can vary, to some extent, in their community-scale properties along a latitudinal gradient. Overall, this study provides a basis for future studies that will examine how different types of plant-fungus associations collectively structure terrestrial ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number292
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 21
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Community ecology
  • Competitive exclusion
  • Host specificity or preference
  • Latitudinal gradients
  • Microbiomes
  • Mycorrhizal and endophytic symbiosis
  • Plant-fungus interactions
  • Plant-soil feedback
  • Species coexistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural diversity across arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal, and endophytic plant-fungus networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this