© 2016 Toju et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Fungi in soil play pivotal roles in nutrient cycling, pest controls, and plant community succession in terrestrial ecosystems. Despite the ecosystem functions provided by soil fungi, our knowledge of the assembly processes of belowground fungi has been limited. In particular, we still have limited knowledge of how diverse functional groups of fungi interact with each other in facilitative and competitive ways in soil. Based on the high-throughput sequencing data of fungi in a cool-temperate forest in northern Japan, we analyzed how taxonomically and functionally diverse fungi showed correlated fine-scale distributions in soil. By uncovering pairs of fungi that frequently co-occurred in the same soil samples, networks depicting fine-scale co-occurrences of fungi were inferred at the O (organic matter) and A (surface soil) horizons. The results then led to the working hypothesis that mycorrhizal, endophytic, saprotrophic, and pathogenic fungi could form compartmentalized (modular) networks of facilitative, antagonistic, and/or competitive interactions in belowground ecosystems. Overall, this study provides a research basis for further understanding how interspecific interactions, along with sharing of niches among fungi, drive the dynamics of poorly explored biospheres in soil.
Toju, H., Kishida, O., Katayama, N., & Takagi, K. (2016). Networks depicting the fine-scale co-occurrences of fungi in soil horizons. PLoS ONE, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165987