Changes in richness and community composition of ectomycorrhizal fungi among altitudinal vegetation types on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo
Geml, József.; Morgado, L.N.; Semenova-Nelsen, T.A.; Schilthuizen, M.
New Phytologist 215(1): 454-468
ISSN/ISBN: 0028-646X PMID: 28401981 DOI: 10.1111/nph.14566
The distribution patterns of tropical ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi along altitudinal gradients remain largely unknown. Furthermore, despite being an iconic site for biodiversity research, virtually nothing is known about the diversity and spatial patterns of fungi on Mt Kinabalu and neighbouring mountain ranges. We carried out deep DNA sequencing of soil samples collected between 425 and 4000 m above sea level to compare richness and community composition of ECM fungi among altitudinal forest types in Borneo. In addition, we tested whether the observed patterns are driven by habitat or by geometric effect of overlapping ranges of species (mid-domain effect). Community composition of ECM fungi was strongly correlated with elevation. In most genera, richness peaked in the mid-elevation montane forest zone, with the exception of tomentelloid fungi, which showed monotonal decrease in richness with increasing altitude. Richness in lower-mid- and mid-elevations was significantly greater than predicted under the mid-domain effect model. We provide the first insight into the composition of ECM fungal communities and their strong altitudinal turnover in Borneo. The high richness and restricted distribution of many ECM fungi in the montane forests suggest that mid-elevation peak richness is primarily driven by environmental characteristics of this habitat and not by the mid-domain effect.