ABSTRACT

Hanlon, L.M., 2021. First recorded account of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in sand dunes in south eastern Australia: Biogeography and species richness. Journal of Coastal Research, 37(2), 280–290. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Coastal arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on incipient foredunes survive in extreme and environmentally stressful ecosystems that are regularly eroded and replaced. These dunes encounter strong, salt-laden winds, sea-water overwash, and low nutrients and are subject to storms of greater magnitude than established foredunes, often being scarped. The species richness of coastal arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi was examined in sand dunes, as well as in the roots of mixed vegetation and grasses growing in the dunes, to elucidate differences in species between the incipient foredune and established foredune gradients and to address the paucity of information on the biogeography of coastal arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Seventy-three operational taxonomic units were identified through DNA analyses and classified into 16 arbuscular mycorrhizal species, of which Glomus spp. was dominant in both dune niches. Three species were specific to the established foredune ecosystem, and four discrete species were found in the incipient foredune ecosystem, demonstrating a robustness to disturbance. Additionally, one discrete species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus was found in the two incipient foredune grasses. All nucleotide sequences have been accepted and assigned accession numbers by GenBank. The identification of microbial biota in coastal sites is of vital importance in allowing more informed decisions to be made on the restoration and conservation of coastal sand dunes or ecosystem remediation. It is postulated that these results are the first to report the biogeography and species richness of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on the southern coast of Australia.

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