PRS Publications

Metagenetics of fairy rings reveals complex and variable fungal communities.

Xu, S., K. Dong, S. Lee, M. C. Ogwu, S. Undrakhbold, D. Singh, D. Ariunzaya, O. Enkhmandal, L. A. Spence, A. Sharkhuu, B. B. Casper, J. M. Adams and B. Boldgiv . 2022.


Although fairy rings are widely observed, little is known of community processes associated with them. We studied fairy rings in natural grassland in Northern Mongolia, sampling soils outside ("future"), directly under ("present"), and within ("past") the rings, to represent different time stages during expansion of fairy rings. Soil DNA was extracted for amplicon sequencing of fungal ITS region. The present stage had reduced diversity, and the fungal community showed various differences, most strikingly an increase in the pathogenic fungus Fusarium/Gibberella in the present stage of many rings, and the saprotrophic fairy ring fungus Lepista luscina in several. However, no mushrooms of Lepista had been recorded from any of these rings in several years of observations. Known fairy ring fungi were not found in the present stage of every ring, even in some known to have previously displayed mushrooms of fairy ring species. It is possible, however, these fungi occurred or were more abundant at the unsampled leading edge of the ring. The increase in Fusarium/Gibberella is intriguing, but its importance - if any - is unclear. It is also unclear whether consortia of fungi or other microbes might be at work in these rings. The absence or low abundance of the previously reported fairy ring mushroom species suggests their presence is transient, with rapid replacement by other fungi. No differences in soil parameters were found between stages, except aluminium. There is a need for broader sampling, including analysis of non-fungal biota, towards understanding functional diversity of fairy ring fungi and consequences for plant communities.

Key Words

Fairy rings Functional guilds Network analysis ITS region