|Title||Soil fungal communities are compositionally resistant to drought manipulations – Evidence from culture-dependent and culture-independent analyses|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2021|
|Authors||Narayanan, A, Ismert, KJ, Smith, MD, Jumpponen, A|
Current environmental change predictions forecast intensified drought conditions. It is becoming increasingly evident that plant communities are sensitive to drought and that soil-inhabiting microbial communities vary along precipitation gradients. However, the drought sensitivity of microbial communities in general and that of soil fungi in particular remains unclear, even though understanding their responses to adverse environmental conditions is vital for better understanding of ecosystem service provisioning. We sampled soils at two sites with established experiments that imposed extreme, chronic drought to assess fungal community responses. We analyzed fungal communities using both culture-dependent and -independent tools and MiSeq-sequenced communities from colony forming units (CFU-PCR) on a drought simulating medium and from environmental DNA (ePCR), to compare the conclusions derived from these two methods. Our data from the two approaches consistently indicate that the composition of fungal communities is not affected by the drought treatment, whereas – based on the CFU-PCR but not ePCR data – their richness and diversity increased under drought conditions at the more mesic of the two sites. Further, based on the direct comparisons of CFU-PCR and ePCR, we estimate that more than 10% of the fungal community and more than 20% of the ascomycetes were culturable. We conclude that although recent research indicates that plant and bacterial communities respond to drought, fungal community responses are more variable, particularly in experiments that impose chronic drought under field conditions.