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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Peeking through a frosty window: Molecular insights into the communities of Arctic soil fungi
by Timling, Ina, Ph.D., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2013, 200; 3607060
Abstract (Summary)

Fungi are thought to be one of the most diverse groups of organisms in the Arctic. They drive mineral and energy cycles and influence the occurrence of other organisms as mutualists (mycorrhizae, endophytes, lichens), decomposers and pathogens. Nevertheless, information on fungal biodiversity and distribution patterns in relation to environments across the Arctic is still sparse. Molecular methods were used to examine the diversity and community structures of ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) associated with two principal arctic host plants, Salix arctica and Dryas integrifolia, as well as total soil fungal communities of adjacent disturbed and undisturbed areas of patterned-ground features across the five bioclimatic subzones (A-E) of the North American Arctic. Key findings include the following: (1) More diverse fungal communities had been observed than previously known. These communities encompass nearly all fungal phyla and included all fungal guilds. However, a few species-rich fungal families dominated these fungal communities. (2) Surprisingly, species richness did not decline with latitude. (3) The most abundant fungal taxa were widely distributed in and beyond the Arctic. Yet root (EMF) and soil fungal communities showed niche preferences in regard to bioclimatic subzones. Furthermore, disturbed and undisturbed patterned ground features harbored different soil fungal communities with the exception of the coldest subzone A. In contrast, EMF community composition was not affected by host plant identity. (4) Fungal communities in the warmest subzone E were distinct from the other arctic subzones and the majority of taxa matched fungi from the boreal forest. (5) Key drivers of fungal community and guild composition along the bioclimatic gradient included regional climate, pH as well as vegetation composition and productivity across the subzones. At the local scale of patterned-ground features, fungal communities were correlated with vegetation composition and microclimate. With a warming climate, I would expect an enhanced colonization of patterned-ground features by vascular plants that would then affect fungal community structure not only at the species level, but also at the level of fungal guilds. In particular I would expect increases in fungi that are symbiotic with plants and a northward shift of both plant and fungal taxa.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Taylor, Donald L., Walker, Donald A.
Commitee: Chapin, Terry FS, Laursen, Gary A., Mulder, Christa P.
School: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Department: Biology & Wildlife
School Location: United States -- Alaska
Source: DAI-B 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biology, Molecular biology, Microbiology
Keywords: Arctic, Distribution patterns, Diversity, Fungi, Latitudinal gradient, Patterned-ground ecosystems
Publication Number: 3607060
ISBN: 978-1-303-64465-8
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