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Top-down control of soil fungal community composition by a globally distributed keystone consumer

Crowther, Thomas, Stanton, David W. G., Thomas, S. M., A'Bear, Andrew Donald, Hiscox, Jennifer, Jones, Thomas Hefin ORCID:, Voříšková, J., Baldrian, P. and Boddy, Lynne ORCID: 2013. Top-down control of soil fungal community composition by a globally distributed keystone consumer. Ecology 94 (11) , pp. 2518-2528. 10.1890/13-0197.1

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The relative contribution of top-down and bottom-up processes regulating primary decomposers can influence the strength of the link between the soil animal community and ecosystem functioning. Although soil bacterial communities are regulated by bottom-up and top-down processes, the latter are considered to be less important in structuring the diversity and functioning of fungal-dominated ecosystems. Despite the huge diversity of mycophagous (fungal-feeding) soil fauna, and their potential to reverse the outcomes of competitive fungal interactions, top-down grazing effects have never been found to translate to community-level changes. We constructed soil mesocosms to investigate the potential of isopods grazing on cord-forming basidiomycete fungi to influence the community composition and functioning of a complex woodland soil microbial community. Using metagenomic sequencing we provide conclusive evidence of direct top-down control at the community scale in fungal-dominated woodland soil. By suppressing the dominant cord-forming basidiomycete fungi, isopods prevented the competitive exclusion of surrounding litter fungi, increasing diversity in a community containing several hundred fungal species. This isopod-induced modification of community composition drove a shift in the soil enzyme profile, and led to a restructuring of the wider mycophagous invertebrate community. We highlight characteristics of different soil ecosystems that will give rise to such top-down control. Given the ubiquity of isopods and basidiomycete fungi in temperate and boreal woodland ecosystems, such top-down community control could be of widespread significance for global carbon and nutrient cycling.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QK Botany
Uncontrolled Keywords: decomposition, fungal energy channel, keystone species, microbial diversity, nutrient mobilization, soil community, top-down control
Publisher: Ecological Society of America
ISSN: 0012-9658
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 11:35

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