Cerrado is a savanna-like region that covers a large area of Brazil. Despite its biological importance, the Cerrado has been the focus of few microbial diversity studies. A molecular approach was chosen to characterize the soil fungal communities in four areas of the Cerrado biome: a native Cerrado, a riverbank forest, an area converted to a soybean plantation, and an area converted to pasture. Global diversity of fungal communities in each area was assessed through Ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis which revealed remarkable differences among the areas studied. Sequencing of approximately 200 clones containing 18S rDNA sequences from each library was performed and, according to the genetic distance between sequences, these were assigned to operational taxonomic units (OTUs). A total of 75, 85, 85, and 70 OTUs were identified for the native Cerrado, riverbank forest, pasture, and soybean plantation, respectively. Analysis of sequences using a similarity cutoff value of 1% showed that the number of OTUs for the native Cerrado area was reduced by 35%; for the soybean plantation, a reduction by more than 50% was observed, indicating a reduction in fungal biodiversity associated with anthropogenic activity. This is the first study demonstrating the anthropogenic impact on Cerrado soil fungal diversity.
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