Arbuscular mycorrhiza and Collembola interact in affecting community composition of saprotrophic microfungi

Oecologia. 2005 Feb;142(4):636-42. doi: 10.1007/s00442-004-1758-1. Epub 2004 Dec 24.


The functioning of the plant-mycorrhiza system depends on interactions with other organisms, including saprotrophic (ST) soil fungi. The interactions between mycorrhizal and ST fungi are likely affected by fungivorous soil animals, such as Collembola. In a two-factorial laboratory experiment lasting for 30 weeks we assessed the effects of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (Glomus mosseae) and Collembola (Protaphorura fimata, Heteromurus nitidus and Folsomia candida) on the community composition of ST microfungi in soil planted with the invasive grass Cynodon dactylon. The presence of mycorrhiza substantially reduced total plant biomass and reduced N and P availability to the soil microflora, though these effects were less pronounced in the presence of Collembola. The density of Collembola was high (corresponding to about 2x10(5) individuals m-2) and was not affected by the presence of G. mosseae. In spite of the large amount of mycorrhizal mycelium in soil, it contributed little to Collembola nutrition. The presence of mycorrhiza strongly affected the community structure of ST soil fungi. In particular, mycorrhiza reduced the relative abundance of Trichoderma harzianum and Exophiala sp., but increased the abundance of Ramichloridium schulzeri and several sterile forms. However, the difference between fungal communities in mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal treatments was much more pronounced in the presence of Collembola. Presumably, the intense grazing by Collembola destabilized the ST fungal community, thereby making it more susceptible to the influence of G. mosseae. These results document for the first time that fungal feeding soil invertebrates can significantly affect the interactions between mycorrhizal fungi and ST soil microorganisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Fungi / growth & development
  • Fungi / physiology*
  • Insecta*
  • Mycorrhizae / growth & development*
  • Mycorrhizae / physiology
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Nitrogen / pharmacokinetics
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Phosphorus / pharmacokinetics
  • Plant Roots / microbiology
  • Population Dynamics
  • Soil Microbiology*


  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen