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Experimental evidence that mycorrhizal nitrogen strategies affect soil carbonAuthor(s): Nina Wurzburger; E. N. Jack Brookshire
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
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DescriptionMost land plants acquire nitrogen (N) through associations with arbuscular (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, but these symbionts employ contrasting strategies for N acquisition, which may lead to different stocks of soil carbon (C). We experimentally test this hypothesis with a mesocosm system where AM and ECM tree seedling roots, or their hyphae only, could access mineral soils with 13C- and 15N-enriched organic matter. We quantified loss of soil C and N, plant uptake of N and new inputs of plant C to soil. We found that AM, but not ECM, seedlings reduced soil C relative to controls. Soil C loss was greater in the presence of roots relative to hyphae only for both AM and ECM seedlings, but was correlated with plant N uptake for AM seedlings only. While new plant C inputs stimulated soil C loss in both symbioses, we detected plant C inputs more frequently and measured higher rates of decomposer activity in soils colonized by AM relative to ECM seedlings. Our study experimentally demonstrates how mycorrhizal strategies for N can affect soil C and C:N, even at the scale of an individual plant. Such effects may contribute to broad patterns in soil C across terrestrial ecosystems.
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CitationWurzburger, Nina; Brookshire, E. N. Jack. 2017.Experimental evidence that mycorrhizal nitrogen strategies affect soil carbon. Ecology. 98(6): 1491-1497. 7 p. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.1827.
KeywordsArbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, carbon, decomposition, ecosystem biogeochemistry, ectomycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen, soil organic matter
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