Foliar fungi of silver birch (Betula pendula) were investigated in the Satakunta expeirment across a gradient of tree species richness using molecular high-throughput sequencing and visual macroscopic assessment. Sequencing revealed greater diversity of fungi on birch leaves than the visual assessment method. In general, no positive linear relationship between the fungal taxa detected by high-throughput sequencing and macroscopic assessment was found. Fungal community composition, but not fungal diversity or richness, was affected by the presence of other tree species admixed with birch. Analysis of specific fungal taxa indicated tree diversity effects at the local neighbourhood scale, where the proportion of birch among neighbouring trees varied, but not at the plot scale. In conclusion, both methods may be used to determine tree diversity effects on the foliar fungal community. However, high-throughput sequencing provided higher resolution of the fungal community, while the visual macroscopic assessment detected functionally active fungal species.
Read the whole paper here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep41801