Effect of long-term nitrogen fertilization on mycorrhizal fungi associated with a dominant grass

We studied the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in a semiarid grassland and the effect of long-term nitrogen (N) fertilization on this fungal community. Root samples of Bouteloua gracilis were collected at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (New Mexico, USA) from control and N-amended plots that have been fertilized since 1995. Small subunit rDNA was amplified using AMF specific primers NS31 and AM1. The diversity of AMF was low in comparison with other ecosystems, only seven operational taxonomic units (OTU) were found in B. gracilis and all belong to the genus Glomus. The dominant OTU was closely related to the ubiquitous G. intraradices/G. fasciculatum group. N-amended plots showed a reduction in the abundance of the dominant OTU and an increase in AMF diversity. The greater AMF diversity in roots from N-amended plots may have been the result of displacement of the dominant OTU, which facilitated detection of uncommon AMF. The long-term implications of AMF responses to N enrichment for plant carbon allocation and plant community structure remain unclear.