Intraspecific diversity regulates fungal productivity and respiration

Anna Wilkinson, Martin Solan, Andrew F S Taylor, Ian J Alexander, David Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Individuals and not just species are key components of biodiversity, yet the relationship between intraspecific diversity and ecosystem functioning in microbial systems remains largely untested. This limits our ability to understand and predict the effects of altered genetic diversity in regulating key ecosystem processes and functions. Here, we use a model fungal system to test the hypothesis that intraspecific genotypic richness of Paxillus obscurosporus stimulates biomass and CO2 efflux, but that this is dependent on nitrogen supply. Using controlled experimental microcosms, we show that populations containing several genotypes (maximum 8) of the fungus had greater productivity and produced significantly more CO2 than those with fewer genotypes. Moreover, intraspecific diversity had a much stronger effect than a four-fold manipulation of the carbon: nitrogen ratio of the growth medium. The effects of intraspecific diversity were underpinned by strong roles of individuals, but overall intraspecific diversity increased the propensity of populations to over-yield, indicating that both complementarity and selection effects can operate within species. Our data demonstrate the importance of intraspecific diversity over a range of nitrogen concentrations, and the need to consider fine scale phylogenetic information of microbial communities in understanding their contribution to ecosystem processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12604
Number of pages9
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2010


  • hebeloma-cylindrosporum
  • genotypic diversity
  • community structure
  • genetic diversity
  • nitrogen-sources
  • ectomycorrhizal
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystems
  • ecology
  • symbiosis


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