Reduction of solar UV-B mediates changes in the Sphagnum capitulum microenvironment and the peatland microfungal community

T. Matthew Robson, Verónica A. Pancotto, Carlos L. Ballaré, Osvaldo E. Sala, Ana L. Scopel, Martyn M. Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The influence of near-ambient and reduced solar UV-B radiation on a peatland microfungal community was assessed by exposing experimental plots to UV-selective filtration. Replicate plots were covered with special plastic films to effect treatments of near-ambient and attenuated solar UV-B. The microfungal community from the top 1 cm of Sphagnum capitulum in a Tierra del Fuego peatland was censused throughout three growing seasons, between 1999 and 2002. Sphagnum capitula under near-ambient UV-B were more compressed and held more water than capitula under reduced UV-B. This water had a greater conductivity and was more acidic under near-ambient UV-B, as would be expected with increased leaching from the Sphagnum leaves. Nine regularly occurring hyphal fungi from the peatland were identified, at least to genus. Over three field seasons, no treatment effect on total fungal colony abundance was recorded, but individual species abundance was increased (Mortierella alpina), decreased (Penicillium frequentans), or was unaffected (P. thomii, Aureobasidium) by near-ambient UV-B. Species richness was also slightly lower under near-ambient UV-B. These treatment differences were smaller than seasonal or inter-annual fluctuations in abundance and species richness. In a growth chamber experiment, lamp UV-B treatments indicated that realistic fluxes of UV-B can inhibit fungal growth in some species. In addition to this direct UV-B effect, we suggest that changes in the peatland fungal community under near-ambient solar UV-B may also result from increased nutrient and moisture availability in the Sphagnum capitulum. The subtle nature of the responses of peatland fungi to solar UV-B suggests that most fungal species we encountered are well adapted to current solar UV-B fluxes in Tierra del Fuego.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Mortierella
  • Ozone depletion
  • Penicillium
  • Sphagnum magellanicum
  • Tierra del Fuego

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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