Dryland soil mycobiome response to long-term precipitation variability depends on host type

Nicolas Louw, Laureano A. Gherardi, Osvaldo E. Sala, Y. Anny Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate change is projected to cause shifts in precipitation regimes globally, leading to intensified periods of precipitation and droughts. Most studies that have explored the influence of changing precipitation regimes on ecosystems have focused on changes in mean annual precipitation, rather than the variance around the mean. Soil fungi are ubiquitous organisms that drive ecosystem processes, but it is unknown how they respond to long-term increased interannual precipitation variability. Here, we investigated the influence of long-term increased precipitation variability and host type on soil fungal diversity and community composition in a dryland ecosystem. We collected 300 soil samples from two time points and different host type substrate types at a long-term precipitation variability experiment at the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research site. Next, we used amplicon sequencing to characterize soil fungal communities. Soil fungal alpha diversity and community composition were strongly affected by host type and sampling year, and increased precipitation variability caused a modest, statistically insignificant, decrease in soil fungal evenness. Furthermore, results from our structural equational model showed that the decrease in grass-associated soil fungal richness was likely an indirect result of host decline in response to increased precipitation variability. Synthesis. Our work demonstrates effects of increase in interannual precipitation variability on soil fungi, and that plant hosts play a key role in mediating soil fungal responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2984-2997
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Bouteloua eriopoda
  • Prosopis glandulosa
  • drylands
  • evenness
  • mycobiome
  • precipitation variability
  • soil fungi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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