New Phytol. 236 (2) 671-683 [2022-10-00; online 2022-07-15]
Knowledge about the distribution and local diversity patterns of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are limited for extreme environments such as the Arctic, where most studies have focused on spore morphology or root colonization. We here studied the joint effects of plant species identity and elevation on AM fungal distribution and diversity. We sampled roots of 19 plant species in 18 locations in Northeast Greenland, using next generation sequencing to identify AM fungi. We studied the joint effect of plant species, elevation and selected abiotic conditions on AM fungal presence, richness and composition. We identified 29 AM fungal virtual taxa (VT), of which six represent putatively new VT. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal presence increased with elevation, and as vegetation cover and the active soil layer decreased. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal composition was shaped jointly by elevation and plant species identity. We demonstrate that the Arctic harbours a relatively species-rich and nonrandomly distributed diversity of AM fungi. Given the high diversity and general lack of knowledge exposed herein, we encourage further research into the diversity, drivers and functional role of AM fungi in the Arctic. Such insight is urgently needed for an area with some of the globally highest rates of climate change.