Fungal Community Succession of Populus grandidentata (Bigtooth Aspen) during Wood Decomposition

Buck T. Castillo, Rima B. Franklin, Kevin R. Amses, Márcio F. A. Leite, Eiko E. Kuramae, Christopher M. Gough, Timothy Y. James, Lewis Faller, John Syring* (Corresponding author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Fungal communities are primary decomposers of detritus, including coarse woody debris (CWD). We investigated the succession of fungal decomposer communities in CWD through different stages of decay in the wide-ranging and early successional tree species Populus grandidentata (bigtooth aspen). We compared shifts in fungal communities over time with concurrent changes in substrate chemistry and in bacterial community composition, the latter deriving from an earlier study of the same system. We found that fungal communities were highly dynamic during the stages of CWD decay, rapidly colonizing standing dead trees and gradually changing in composition until the late stages of decomposed wood were integrated into soil organic matter. Fungal communities were most similar to neighboring stages of decay, with fungal diversity, abundance, and enzyme activity positively related to percent nitrogen, irrespective of decay class. In contrast to other studies, we found that species diversity remained unchanged across decay classes. Differences in enzyme profiles across CWD decay stages mirrored changes in carbon recalcitrance, as B-D-xylosidase, peroxidase, and Leucyl aminopeptidase activity increased as decomposition progressed. Finally, fungal and bacterial gene abundances were stable and increased, respectively, with the extent of CWD decay, suggesting that fungal-driven decomposition was associated with shifting community composition and associated enzyme functions rather than fungal quantities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2086
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2023

Research theme

  • Sustainable water and land use


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