Knowledge of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal assemblages in the Trachypogon savanna ecosystems is very important to a better understanding of the ecological processes mediated by this soil microbial group that affects multiple ecosystem functions. Considering the hypothesis that the biocrusts can be linked to vegetation through the arbuscular fungi mycelial network, the objectives proposed in this study were to determine (i) whether there are arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in the biocrusts (ii) whether arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal assemblages are linked to the Trachypogon patches, and (iii) whether the composition of the assemblages is related to soil properties affected by microbiological activity. The community structure of the AMF was investigated in three habitats: rhizospheric soil and roots of Trachypogon vestitus, biological soil crusts, and bare soil. The canonical correspondence analysis showed that two soil properties related to enzymatic activity (protease and β-glucosidase) significantly affected the community composition of the AMF. The biocrusts in the Venezuelan savanna are colonized by an AM fungal community linked to that of the bare soil and significantly different from that hosted by the roots of the surrounding T. vestitus, suggesting that assemblages of AMF in biocrusts might be related more closely to those of annual plant species appearing in favorable conditions.
Keywords: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; Biocrusts; Diversity; Savanna; Soil properties.
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