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Untangling the fungal niche: the trait-based approach.

Crowther TW, Maynard DS, Crowther TR, Peccia J, Smith JR, Bradford MA - Front Microbiol (2014)

Bottom Line: Given that the survival of a fungus in a given environment is contingent on its ability to tolerate antagonistic competitors, measuring variation in combat trait expression along environmental gradients provides a means of elucidating realized, from fundamental niche spaces.We conclude that, using a trait-based understanding of how niche processes structure fungal communities across time and space, we can ultimately link communities with ecosystem functioning.Our trait-based framework highlights fundamental uncertainties that require testing in the fungal system, given their potential to uncover general mechanisms in fungal ecology.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University New Haven, CT, USA.

ABSTRACT
Fungi are prominent components of most terrestrial ecosystems, both in terms of biomass and ecosystem functioning, but the hyper-diverse nature of most communities has obscured the search for unifying principles governing community organization. In particular, unlike plants and animals, observational studies provide little evidence for the existence of niche processes in structuring fungal communities at broad spatial scales. This limits our capacity to predict how communities, and their functioning, vary across landscapes. We outline how a shift in focus, from taxonomy toward functional traits, might prove to be valuable in the search for general patterns in fungal ecology. We build on theoretical advances in plant and animal ecology to provide an empirical framework for a trait-based approach in fungal community ecology. Drawing upon specific characteristics of the fungal system, we highlight the significance of drought stress and combat in structuring free-living fungal communities. We propose a conceptual model to formalize how trade-offs between stress-tolerance and combative dominance are likely to organize communities across environmental gradients. Given that the survival of a fungus in a given environment is contingent on its ability to tolerate antagonistic competitors, measuring variation in combat trait expression along environmental gradients provides a means of elucidating realized, from fundamental niche spaces. We conclude that, using a trait-based understanding of how niche processes structure fungal communities across time and space, we can ultimately link communities with ecosystem functioning. Our trait-based framework highlights fundamental uncertainties that require testing in the fungal system, given their potential to uncover general mechanisms in fungal ecology.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Examples of trait complexes and corresponding true traits (lines connect trait complexes with the true traits that influence them), each of which can be measured in terms of constitutive or potential expression, and which exist on a continuum across saprotrophic, mycorrhizal and pathogenic fungi. Even the true traits might be considered trait complexes as they are encoded for by complex sets of genes. Nevertheless, these are all measurable properties individuals that potentially relate to survival under a given set of environmental conditions. These traits can be measured directly or indirectly (by measuring functional gene expression), but are most useful when expression can be related to individuals. Response traits are those that dictate how organisms respond to biotic and abiotic conditions, and effect traits relate to an individual's effect on the environment. Several true traits are predicted to influence both response- and effect-trait complexes (Koide et al., 2014), and each trait complex could be comprised of a suite of interacting true traits. Highlighted in bold are the trait complexes that we propose are dominant structuring forces in free-living fungal communities.
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Figure 1: Examples of trait complexes and corresponding true traits (lines connect trait complexes with the true traits that influence them), each of which can be measured in terms of constitutive or potential expression, and which exist on a continuum across saprotrophic, mycorrhizal and pathogenic fungi. Even the true traits might be considered trait complexes as they are encoded for by complex sets of genes. Nevertheless, these are all measurable properties individuals that potentially relate to survival under a given set of environmental conditions. These traits can be measured directly or indirectly (by measuring functional gene expression), but are most useful when expression can be related to individuals. Response traits are those that dictate how organisms respond to biotic and abiotic conditions, and effect traits relate to an individual's effect on the environment. Several true traits are predicted to influence both response- and effect-trait complexes (Koide et al., 2014), and each trait complex could be comprised of a suite of interacting true traits. Highlighted in bold are the trait complexes that we propose are dominant structuring forces in free-living fungal communities.

Mentions: In this paper, we refer to two categories of continuous traits: “trait complexes” and “true traits.” Trait complexes correspond to the performance of an individual relative to co-occurring taxa. These can relate to biotic (e.g., competitive ability) or abiotic factors (e.g., drought tolerance), and are a product of the expression of multiple true traits (e.g., growth rate or osmolyte production; Figure 1). Both categories can refer to response traits (that govern how organisms respond to different conditions) and effect traits (that determine how organisms affect their environment).


Untangling the fungal niche: the trait-based approach.

Crowther TW, Maynard DS, Crowther TR, Peccia J, Smith JR, Bradford MA - Front Microbiol (2014)

Examples of trait complexes and corresponding true traits (lines connect trait complexes with the true traits that influence them), each of which can be measured in terms of constitutive or potential expression, and which exist on a continuum across saprotrophic, mycorrhizal and pathogenic fungi. Even the true traits might be considered trait complexes as they are encoded for by complex sets of genes. Nevertheless, these are all measurable properties individuals that potentially relate to survival under a given set of environmental conditions. These traits can be measured directly or indirectly (by measuring functional gene expression), but are most useful when expression can be related to individuals. Response traits are those that dictate how organisms respond to biotic and abiotic conditions, and effect traits relate to an individual's effect on the environment. Several true traits are predicted to influence both response- and effect-trait complexes (Koide et al., 2014), and each trait complex could be comprised of a suite of interacting true traits. Highlighted in bold are the trait complexes that we propose are dominant structuring forces in free-living fungal communities.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4215788&req=5

Figure 1: Examples of trait complexes and corresponding true traits (lines connect trait complexes with the true traits that influence them), each of which can be measured in terms of constitutive or potential expression, and which exist on a continuum across saprotrophic, mycorrhizal and pathogenic fungi. Even the true traits might be considered trait complexes as they are encoded for by complex sets of genes. Nevertheless, these are all measurable properties individuals that potentially relate to survival under a given set of environmental conditions. These traits can be measured directly or indirectly (by measuring functional gene expression), but are most useful when expression can be related to individuals. Response traits are those that dictate how organisms respond to biotic and abiotic conditions, and effect traits relate to an individual's effect on the environment. Several true traits are predicted to influence both response- and effect-trait complexes (Koide et al., 2014), and each trait complex could be comprised of a suite of interacting true traits. Highlighted in bold are the trait complexes that we propose are dominant structuring forces in free-living fungal communities.
Mentions: In this paper, we refer to two categories of continuous traits: “trait complexes” and “true traits.” Trait complexes correspond to the performance of an individual relative to co-occurring taxa. These can relate to biotic (e.g., competitive ability) or abiotic factors (e.g., drought tolerance), and are a product of the expression of multiple true traits (e.g., growth rate or osmolyte production; Figure 1). Both categories can refer to response traits (that govern how organisms respond to different conditions) and effect traits (that determine how organisms affect their environment).

Bottom Line: Given that the survival of a fungus in a given environment is contingent on its ability to tolerate antagonistic competitors, measuring variation in combat trait expression along environmental gradients provides a means of elucidating realized, from fundamental niche spaces.We conclude that, using a trait-based understanding of how niche processes structure fungal communities across time and space, we can ultimately link communities with ecosystem functioning.Our trait-based framework highlights fundamental uncertainties that require testing in the fungal system, given their potential to uncover general mechanisms in fungal ecology.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University New Haven, CT, USA.

ABSTRACT
Fungi are prominent components of most terrestrial ecosystems, both in terms of biomass and ecosystem functioning, but the hyper-diverse nature of most communities has obscured the search for unifying principles governing community organization. In particular, unlike plants and animals, observational studies provide little evidence for the existence of niche processes in structuring fungal communities at broad spatial scales. This limits our capacity to predict how communities, and their functioning, vary across landscapes. We outline how a shift in focus, from taxonomy toward functional traits, might prove to be valuable in the search for general patterns in fungal ecology. We build on theoretical advances in plant and animal ecology to provide an empirical framework for a trait-based approach in fungal community ecology. Drawing upon specific characteristics of the fungal system, we highlight the significance of drought stress and combat in structuring free-living fungal communities. We propose a conceptual model to formalize how trade-offs between stress-tolerance and combative dominance are likely to organize communities across environmental gradients. Given that the survival of a fungus in a given environment is contingent on its ability to tolerate antagonistic competitors, measuring variation in combat trait expression along environmental gradients provides a means of elucidating realized, from fundamental niche spaces. We conclude that, using a trait-based understanding of how niche processes structure fungal communities across time and space, we can ultimately link communities with ecosystem functioning. Our trait-based framework highlights fundamental uncertainties that require testing in the fungal system, given their potential to uncover general mechanisms in fungal ecology.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus