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Data from: Spatial patterns of pathogenic and mutualistic fungi across the elevational range of a host plant

Cite this dataset

Merges, Dominik et al. (2019). Data from: Spatial patterns of pathogenic and mutualistic fungi across the elevational range of a host plant [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Fungi are both agents of disease and mutualistic partners of plants. Previous studies have tested the effects of abiotic or biotic factors on plant-associated fungal communities in isolation. However, to better understand patterns of plant-fungal associations, the combined effects of abiotic and biotic drivers across environmental gradients may be important. 2. We investigated the effects of temperature, pH, soil moisture, vegetation cover and distance to host plant on the occurrence and abundance of fungi associated with Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra). We did this by DNA metabarcoding 288 soil samples taken across and beyond the elevation range of P. cembra (i.e. 1850 – 2250 m a.s.l.) in two valleys in the Swiss Alps. We modeled the effects of abiotic and biotic factors on DNA read abundance of pathogenic and mutualistic fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) associated with P. cembra. We also tested whether abiotic and biotic factors differentially affected fungi of varying host specificity (i.e. host generalists, host specialists). 3. We found that the occurrences of both host generalist and specialist fungi exceeded the current elevational range of their host plant. Abiotic factors had only minor effects on the abundances of all fungal OTUs. However, we found positive effects of the host plant on the abundance of a host specialist pathogenic fungus, providing support for a Janzen-Connell effect of high pathogen accumulation close to conspecific host plants. We also found a positive response to the host plant in a specialist ectomycorrhizal fungus, suggesting an “inverse” Janzen-Connell effect. 4. Synthesis. Our findings imply that negative distance dependence shapes not only the distribution of host-specific fungal pathogens, but also host-specific fungal mutualists. We conclude that the occurrence of both pathogenic and mutualistic fungi beyond the current elevational range of host plants may determine their potential range shifts under projected climate warming.

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