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Reproductive Significance of Feeding on Saprobic and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi by the Collembolan, Folsomia candida
J. N. Klironomos, E. M. Bednarczuk and J. Neville
Vol. 13, No. 6 (Dec., 1999), pp. 756-761
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2656368
Page Count: 6
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1. Collembolans have often been credited with negatively affecting arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbioses, mainly by grazing and severing the associated external fungal network from host roots. However, most previous experiments were performed using relatively `clean' systems where other, non-mycorrhizal, fungi were largely excluded. Yet, plant rhizospheres harbour a wide variety of highly palatable non-AM fungi, most of which have saprobic lifestyles. 2. In this study we isolated and cultured several rhizosphere fungi, and the collembolan, Folsomia candida, from the Long-Term Mycorrhiza Research Site, University of Guelph, Canada, to test the hypothesis that, given a choice, collembolans would prefer to feed on saprobic fungi and that such a choice is of adaptive significance to the animals. 3. A laboratory food preference experiment revealed that F. candida favours common saprobic fungi over a variety of AM fungi. Coincidentally, fecundity levels across two Folsomia generations were higher when animals fed exclusively on the preferred fungus, Alternaria alternata. When fed less palatable fungi, fecundity was greatly reduced; in fact animals from the F1 generation were unable to produce any eggs when placed on an exclusive diet of one of the following three AM fungi, Acaulospora spinosa, Scutellospora calospora and Gigaspora gigantea. 4. These results indicate that a strict diet of AM fungi by collembolans has reproductive consequences. Therefore, we propose that under natural conditions these animals spend more time feeding on common saprobic fungi rather than their AM counterparts. This suggests that previous `clean' studies that investigated the interactions between collembolans and AM fungi may have reported exaggerated effects of animal grazing. The influence of collembolans on the functioning of AM symbioses, under more natural conditions, remains not well understood.
Functional Ecology © 1999 British Ecological Society