All Publications

  • Contrasting fungal responses to wildfire across different ecosystem types. Molecular ecology Smith, G. R., Edy, L. C., Peay, K. G. 2020


    Wildfire affects our planet's biogeochemistry both by burning biomass and by driving changes in ecological communities and landcover. Some plants and ecosystem types are threatened by increasing fire pressure while others respond positively to fire, growing in local and regional abundance when it occurs regularly. However, quantifying total ecosystem response to fire demands consideration of impacts not only on aboveground vegetation, but also on soil microbes like fungi, which influence decomposition and nutrient mineralization. If fire-resistant soil fungal communities co-occur with similarly adapted plants, these above- and belowground ecosystem components should shift and recover in relative synchrony after burning. If not, fire might decouple ecosystem processes governed by these different communities, affecting total functioning. Here, we use a natural experiment to test whether fire-dependent ecosystems host unique, fire-resistant fungal communities. We surveyed burned and unburned areas across two California ecosystem types with differing fire ecologies in the immediate aftermath of a wildfire, finding that the soil fungal communities of fire-dependent oak woodlands differ from those of neighboring mixed evergreen forests. We discovered furthermore that the latter are more strongly altered compositionally by fire than the former, suggesting that differences in fungal community structure support divergent community responses to fire across ecosystems. Our results thus indicate that fire-dependent ecosystems may host fire-resistant fungal communities.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/mec.15767

    View details for PubMedID 33295012

  • Building a global database of soil microbial biomass and function: a call for collaboration. Soil organisms Smith, G. R., Crowther, T. W., Eisenhauer, N., van den Hoogen, J. 2020; 91 (3): 139–42


    Global analyses are emerging as valuable complements to local and regional scale studies in ecology and are useful for examining many of the major environmental issues that we face today. Soil ecology has significantly benefited from these developments, with recent syntheses unearthing interesting, unexpected biogeographic patterns in belowground biotic communities. However, some questions still remain unanswered, and the accuracy of these studies is inevitably limited by the extent of the data they draw upon. This is a particular problem in global ecology because most datasets used exhibit geographic bias in sample distribution. Here, we work towards addressing this problem with an open call for collaboration on a planned global analysis of soil phospholipid fatty acid and potential enzyme activity measurements. We summarize the current extent of our dataset, outline the planned analyses, and provide information for prospective collaborators who would like to contribute or learn more.

    View details for DOI 10.25674/so91iss3pp140

    View details for PubMedID 32577136

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7311196

  • Stepping forward from relevance in mycorrhizal ecology. The New phytologist Smith, G. R., Peay, K. G. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nph.16432

    View details for PubMedID 32053732

  • Constraining Carbon and Nutrient Flows in Soil With Ecological Stoichiometry FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION Buchkowski, R. W., Shaw, A. N., Sihi, D., Smith, G. R., Keiser, A. D. 2019; 7
  • Resource-ratio theory predicts mycorrhizal control of litter decomposition NEW PHYTOLOGIST Smith, G. R., Wan, J. 2019; 223 (3): 1595–1606

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nph.15884

    View details for Web of Science ID 000475918000045

  • Competition-colonization tradeoffs structure fungal diversity ISME JOURNAL Smith, G. R., Steidinger, B. S., Bruns, T. D., Peay, K. G. 2018; 12 (7): 1758–67
  • Growing evidence for facultative biotrophy in saprotrophic fungi: data from microcosm tests with 201 species of wood-decay basidiomycetes NEW PHYTOLOGIST Smith, G. R., Finlay, R. D., Stenlid, J., Vasaitis, R., Menkis, A. 2017; 215 (2): 747–55


    Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbioses have evolved a minimum of 78 times independently from saprotrophic lineages, indicating the potential for functional overlap between ECM and saprotrophic fungi. ECM fungi have the capacity to decompose organic matter, and although there is increasing evidence that some saprotrophic fungi exhibit the capacity to enter into facultative biotrophic relationships with plant roots without causing disease symptoms, this subject is still not well studied. In order to determine the extent of biotrophic capacity in saprotrophic wood-decay fungi and which systems may be useful models, we investigated the colonization of conifer seedling roots in vitro using an array of 201 basidiomycete wood-decay fungi. Microtome sectioning, differential staining and fluorescence microscopy were used to visualize patterns of root colonization in microcosm systems containing Picea abies or Pinus sylvestris seedlings and each saprotrophic fungus. Thirty-four (16.9%) of the tested fungal species colonized the roots of at least one tree species. Two fungal species showed formation of a mantle and one showed Hartig net-like structures. These features suggest the possibility of an active functional symbiosis between fungus and plant. The data indicate that the capacity for facultative biotrophic relationships in free-living saprotrophic basidiomycetes may be greater than previously supposed.

    View details for PubMedID 28382741