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Data from: Community composition and diversity of Neotropical root-associated fungi in common and rare trees


Schroeder, John W. et al. (2018), Data from: Community composition and diversity of Neotropical root-associated fungi in common and rare trees, Dryad, Dataset,


Interactions between plants and root-associated fungi can affect the assembly, diversity, and relative abundances of tropical plant species. Host-symbiont compatibility and some degree of host specificity are prerequisites for these processes to occur, and these prerequisites may vary with host abundance. However, direct assessments of whether specificity of root-associated fungi varies with host abundance are lacking. Here, in a diverse tropical forest in Los Tuxtlas, Mexico, we couple DNA metabarcoding with a sampling design that controls for host phylogeny, plant age, and habitat variation, to characterize fungal communities associated with the roots of three confamilial pairs of host species that exhibit contrasting (high and low) relative abundances. We uncovered a functionally and phylogenetically diverse fungal community composed of 1,038 OTUs (operational taxonomic units with 97% genetic similarity), only 14 of which exhibited host specificity. Host species was a significant predictor of fungal community composition only for the subset of OTUs composed of putatively pathogenic fungi. We found no significant difference in the number of specialists associating with common versus rare trees, but we found that host abundance was negatively correlated to the diversity of root fungal communities. This latter result was significant for symbiotrophs (mostly arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi), and to a lesser extent for pathotrophs (mostly plant pathogens). Thus, root fungal communities differ between common and rare trees, which may impact the strength of conspecific negative density-dependence. Further studies from other tropical sites and host lineages are warranted, given the role of root-associated fungi in biodiversity maintenance.

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