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    Author(s): Melanie K. Taylor; Richard A. Lankau; Nina Wurzburger; Franciska de Vries
    Date: 2016
    Source: Journal of Ecology
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (414.0 KB)

    Description

    1. Organic matter decomposition is the main process by which carbon (C) is lost from terrestrial
    ecosystems, and mycorrhizal associations of plants (i.e. arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) and ectomycorrhizas
    (ECM)) may have different indirect effects on this loss pathway. AM and ECM plants differ
    in the soil decomposers they promote and the quality of litter they produce, which may result in
    different patterns of organic matter decomposition, and hence, soil C loss.
    2. To determine how mycorrhizal associations indirectly affect decomposer activity, we collected
    soils and litters from four AM and four ECM tree species from a mixed-deciduous temperate forest
    for a field and laboratory study. We first characterized in situ patterns in soil chemistry and soil
    microbial biomass among these eight tree species. We then conducted a microcosm experiment with
    mineral soils, leaf litter and fine roots originating from these tree species, where we reciprocally
    crossed litters and soils, and quantified the rate of heterotrophic respiration over a 140-day laboratory
    incubation.
    3. In natural forest conditions, AM tree soils contained lower total C and microbial biomass C:N
    relative to ECM tree soils. In our microcosm experiment, AM soils supported greater heterotrophic
    respiration than did ECM soils. The addition of AM litter stimulated respiration more than did ECM
    litter, owing to the lower C:N of AM litter. Matching the mycorrhizal identity of litter and soil
    resulted in a difference in total respiration, such that combinations of AM litters with AM soils lost
    more C than did combinations of ECM litters with ECM soils.
    4. Synthesis. Our findings demonstrate that AM and ECM trees have differing indirect effects on
    soil decomposer activity through the decomposers they cultivate and/or the quality of organic matter
    they produce. Mycorrhizal differences in litter quality accentuate these effects on soil C loss and
    may explain patterns in soil C dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Taylor, Melanie K.; Lankau, Richard A.; Wurzburger, Nina; de Vries, Franciska. 2016. Mycorrhizal associations of trees have different indirect effects on organic matter decomposition. Journal of Ecology. 9p.  10.1111/1365-2745.12629

    Cited

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    Keywords

    arbuscular mycorrhizas, biogeochemistry, carbon, decomposition, ectomycorrhizas, nitrogen, plant–soil relationship, soil organic matter

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