Fire and nurse plants in the sclerophyllous forest of Chilean Matorral: How do they affect the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi?

Patricia Silva Flores
Patricia Silva Flores
Chilean Matorral, Central Chile
project abstract

The Chilean Matorral has a high degree of plant endemism and a high vulnerability due to anthropogenic pressures, mainly anthropogenic fires, which is why it is currently recognized as a biodiversity hotspot. There is evidence that fire can reduce the richness and abundance of microorganisms in the soil, including mycorrhizal fungi, thus modifying their diversity. On the other hand, there is evidence that after a fire it is possible to find trees that survive and are able to resprout, so they function as nurse plants and can in turn be a source of mycorrhizal fungi for a potential recovery of the affected system. That said, in this study we aim to test the effect of fire and nurse plants on the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the sclerophyllous forest. This forest is the most representative vegetation formation of the Chilean Matorral and the dominant plant species present there form arbuscular mycorrhiza. A lower diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi is expected in sites affected by fires and without the presence of nurse plants compared to sites not affected by fires and with the presence of resprouting nurse plants. This project includes work with local communities in order to transfer knowledge among all participants.