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Senes-Guerrero, Carolina and Schüßler, Arthur (2016): A conserved arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal core-species community colonizes potato roots in the Andes. In: Fungal Diversity, Vol. 77, No. 1: pp. 317-333

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Plant-symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are of high global ecological and economic importance, but describing environmental communities of AMF at the species level remains a challenge, despite the need to understand AMF-plant preferences and to apply AMF in sustainable agriculture. Here, the potato-associated AMF species community composition was assessed for three Andean countries along an altitudinal gradient and at different plant stages, by using 454 GS-FLX+ sequencing of a 760 bp LSU rRNA gene PCR amplicon. Two methods were compared: defining OTUs based on a simple sequence similarity threshold, or affiliating reference sequences to species based on a high throughput phylogenetic annotation approach using an evolutionary placement algorithm (EPA). The EPA-based approach was not only more precise, but also fundamental to robustly unveil the AMF species community composition. The principal advantage of this approach was also demonstrated by using artificially constructed datasets based on validated public database sequences. The affiliation of sequence reads to species using phylogenetic annotation revealed a surprisingly conserved AMF core-species community structure in Andean potatoes, regardless of different plant stages and environmental factors. In total, 41 species were detected and in some cases more than 25 species were found colonizing an individual root system. Acaulospora species were identified as dominant colonizers, co-occurring with Cetraspora nodosa and certain Claroideoglomus and Rhizophagus species in most potato root samples.

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