Characterizing AMF communities in soils and roots across elevation gradients in global biodiversity hotspot

Meghna Krishnadas
Meghna Krishnadas
project abstract

Discerning how climate drives the composition of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi is essential in mountains where change in elevation corresponds with prominent abiotic shifts across relatively small spatial scales. From low to high elevations, conditions become cooler and drier (mean temperature and precipitation decreases) which can drive the distribution of AMF in soil and how they associate with host plants. To better grasp the ecological role of AMF in different abiotic contexts, we also need to understand how AMF associate with host plants across abiotic gradients. This study will uncover the drivers of AMF diversity and composition across an elevation gradient in the South Western Ghats, part of a global biodiversity hotspot with high diversity and endemism of plant species. We will document AMF in the soil and record root-associated AMF for six tree species—two with wide elevation range and two each restricted to higher and lower elevations. This data will offer the first documentation of mycorrhizal diversity for this region and pave the way for in-depth assessments of how plant-fungal interactions will respond to global environmental change.

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