Arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation and plant response strongly shape bacterial and eukaryotic soil community trajectories

Johan De Gruyter*, James T. Weedon, Evelyne M. Elst, Stefan Geisen, Marcel G.A. van der Heijden, Erik Verbruggen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and terrestrial plants form one of the most important and ubiquitous symbioses on the planet. Although the central role of AM fungi in rhizosphere processes is well established, the extent of their influence on the development of the whole soil microbial community is less well characterized. We assessed the temporal dynamics of the bacterial and eukaryotic soil microbial communities in mesocosms where AM fungi were inoculated on a grass (Holcus lanatus L.) and a clover (Trifolium pratense L.). This allowed us to evaluate whether 1) inoculation with AM fungi changes the overall structure of soil communities and 2) if these changes are partially mediated by the altered plant phenotype, as indicated by increases in growth and photosynthetic activity. We observed changes in the community composition of both microbial groups, largely associated with relative decreases in Proteobacteria, Nematoda and some protistan groups (Ciliophora and Lobosa) and relative increases in Gastrotricha and Firmicutes. Plant productivity doubled with mycorrhizal inoculation, while other plant performance measures increased by 10–50%. We conclude that the interaction between AM fungi and plants shapes the surrounding soil microbial communities, probably because enhanced growth of host plants changes the amount, timing, and form of carbon inputs into soil.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number108524
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
    Early online date14 Dec 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    JDG and this work were funded by a University Research Fund ( BOF ) from the University of Antwerp: TOP-BOF UA 2014–2017: FORHOT (UA nr. 41/FA070400/FFB140025 ). JTW was partially supported by Dutch Research Council ( NWO ) project 016.171.089.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2021 Elsevier Ltd


    • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
    • Mycorrhizal inoculation
    • Plant productivity
    • Protists
    • Soil microbial community
    • Temporal dynamics


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