Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 21327.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021327

• Original Papers: Microbial Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of extreme drought on community and ecological network of soil fungi in a temperate desert

Peng Xu1,2, Xiaoying Rong1,*(), Chaohong Liu3, Fang Du1,2, Benfeng Yin1, Ye Tao1, Yuanming Zhang1   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 College of Grassland and Environmental Sciences, Xinjiang Agricultural University, Urumqi 830052
  • Received:2021-08-18 Accepted:2021-01-14 Online:2022-04-07 Published:2022-03-11
  • Contact: Xiaoying Rong


Aims Extreme drought exacerbates the expansion of desert areas around the world. Microbial diversity is associated with multiple ecosystem functions in the desert. Evaluating the response of fungal communities to extreme drought is essential for our understanding of regional desertification caused by drought in a temperate desert.

Methods Based on three-year (D3) and ten-year (D10) drought plots established in the Gurbantunggut Desert, we investigated the effect of extreme drought on the diversity and ecological network of fungal communities.

Results Our results demonstrated that in both the D3 and D10 plots, the droughts had no significant influence on the Chao1 and Shannon diversity indexes of the whole and abundant fungi, while the rare fungal Shannon diversity index significantly increased. Both extreme drought treatments had a noticeable effect on community composition of whole, abundant and rare fungi, with stronger effect on rare fungi (ANOSIM, R = 0.378-0.595, P < 0.01) than that on the abundant fungi (ANOSIM, R = 0.282-0.555, P < 0.01), suggesting that abundant fungi were more resistant to drought than rare taxa. Moreover, beta-diversity of the whole, abundant, and rare fungi decreased significantly in D3 and D10 treatments, suggesting that extreme drought served as an ecological filter on fungal community assembly. Molecular ecological network analysis revealed that in both the D3 and D10 plots there was a reduced fungal network complexity, suggesting that extreme drought reduced the interactions among fungal communities. In addition, abundant fungi had higher node topological parameters (P < 0.05), indicating that abundant fungi were important for maintaining fungal species interactions under extreme drought conditions.

Conclusion Extreme drought significantly altered fungal community composition and weakened the interactions among fungal communities in a temperate desert. Furthermore, rare fungi were sensitive to extreme drought, contributing to reducing the lag in the response to fungal communities, and abundant fungi, as the core microflora in fungal networks, were crucial to sustaining the stability of fungal communities and interactions among species under extreme drought conditions.

Key words: Gurbantunggut Desert, extreme drought, abundant fungal taxa, rare fungal taxa, molecular ecological network