Molecular biodiversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in trace metal-polluted soils

Saad El Din Hassan, E. Boon, M. St-Arnaud, Mohamed Hijri

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We assessed the indigenous arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) community structure from the roots and associated soil of Plantago major (plantain) plants growing on sites polluted with trace metals (TM) and on unpolluted sites. Uncontaminated and TM-contaminated sites containing As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Sn and Zn were selected based on a survey of the TM concentration in soils of community gardens in the City of Montréal. Total genomic DNA was extracted directly from these samples. PCR followed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE), augmented by cloning and sequencing, as well as direct sequencing techniques, was all used to investigate AMF community structure. We found a decreased diversity of native AMF (assessed by the number of AMF ribotypes) in soils and plant roots harvested from TM-polluted soils compared with unpolluted soils. We also found that community structure was modified by TM contamination. Various species of Glomus, Scutellospora aurigloba and S. calospora were the most abundant ribotypes detected in unpolluted soil; ribotypes of G. etunicatum, G. irregulare/G. intraradices and G. viscosum were found in both polluted and unpolluted soils, while ribotypes of G. mosseae and Glomus spp. (B9 and B13) were dominant in TM-polluted soils. The predominance of G. mosseae in metal-polluted sites suggests the tolerance of this species to TM stress, as well as its potential use for phytoremediation. These data are relevant for our understanding of how AMF microbial communities respond to natural environments that contain a broad variety of toxic inorganic compounds and will substantially expand our knowledge of AMF ecology and biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3469-3483
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • biodiversity
  • cloning and sequencing
  • PCR and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis
  • polluted soils
  • trace metals

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