Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Sep 8:e0079522. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.00795-22. Online ahead of print.
Forest succession is important for sustainable forest management in terrestrial ecosystems. However, knowledge about the response of soil microbes to forest disease-driven succession is limited. In this study, we investigated the soil fungal biomass, soil enzyme activity, and fungal community structure and function in forests suffering succession processes produced by pine wilt disease from conifer to broadleaved forests using Illumina Miseq sequencing coupled with FUNGuild analysis. The results showed that the broadleaved forest had the highest fungal biomass and soil enzyme activities in C, N, and S cycles, whereas the conifer forest had the highest enzyme activity in the P cycle. Along the succession, the fungal diversity and richness significantly increased (P < 0.05). The fungal communities were dominated by Ascomycota (42.0%), Basidiomycota (38.0%), and Mortierellomycota (9.5%), among which the abundance of Ascomycota significantly increased (P < 0.05), whereas that of Basidiomycota and Mortierellomycota decreased (P < 0.05). The abundance of species Mortierella humilis, Lactarius salmonicolor, and Russula sanguinea decreased, whereas that of Mortierella minutissima increased (P < 0.05). The forests in different succession stages formed distinct fungal communities and functional structures (P < 0.05). Functionally, the saprotrophs, symbiotrophs, and pathotrophs were the dominant groups in the conifer, mixed, and broadleaved forests, respectively. Soil pH and soil organic carbon were the key factors influencing the fungal community and functional structures during the succession. These findings provide useful information for better understanding the plant-microbe interaction during forest succession caused by forest disease. IMPORTANCE The studies on soil fungal communities in disease-driven forest succession are rare. This study showed that during the disease-driven forest succession, the soil enzyme activity, soil fungal diversity, and biomass increased along succession. The disease-driven forest succession changed the soil fungal community structure and function, in which the symbiotrophs were the most dominant group along the succession. These findings provide useful information for better understanding the plant-microbe interaction during forest succession caused by forest disease.