Home-field advantage in wood decomposition is mainly mediated by fungal community shifts at “home” versus “away”

Purahong, Witoon ORCID; Kahl, Tiemo; Krüger, Dirk; Buscot, François; Hoppe, Björn GND

The home-field advantage (HFA) hypothesis has been used intensively to study leaf litter decomposition in various ecosystems. However, the HFA in woody substrates is still unexplored. Here, we reanalyzed and integrated existing datasets on various groups of microorganisms collected from natural deadwood of two temperate trees, Fagus sylvatica and Picea abies, from forests in which one or other of these species dominates but where both are present. Our aims were (i) to test the HFA hypothesis on wood decomposition rates of these two temperate tree species, and (ii) to investigate if HFA hypothesis can be explained by diversity and community composition of bacteria and in detail N-fixing bacteria (as determined by molecular 16S rRNA and nifH gene amplification) and fungi (as determined by molecular ITS rRNA amplification and sporocarp surveys). Our results showed that wood decomposition rates were accelerated at “home” versus “away” by 38.19% ± 20.04% (mean ± SE). We detected strong changes in fungal richness (increase 36–50%) and community composition (RANOSIM = 0.52–0.60, P < 0.05) according to HFA hypothesis. The changes of fungi were much stronger than for total bacteria and nitrogen fixing for both at richness and community composition levels. In conclusion, our results support the HFA hypothesis in deadwood: decomposition rate is accelerated at home due to specialization of fungal communities produced by the plant community above them. Furthermore, the higher richness of fungal sporocarps and nitrogen-fixing bacteria (nifH) may stimulate or at least stabilize wood decomposition rates at “home” versus “away.”

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Purahong, Witoon / Kahl, Tiemo / Krüger, Dirk / et al: Home-field advantage in wood decomposition is mainly mediated by fungal community shifts at “home” versus “away”. 2019.

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