31 Mar 2022
31 Mar 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Nitrophobic ectomycorrhizal fungi are associated with enhanced hydrophobicity of soil organic matter in a Norway spruce forest

Juan Pablo Almeida1, Nicholas Rosenstock1, Susanne Woche2, Georg Guggenberger2, and Håkan Wallander1 Juan Pablo Almeida et al.
  • 1Department of Biology, MEMEG, Lund University, 22362 Lund, Sweden
  • 2Institute of Soil Science, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Herrenhäuser Str. 2, 30419 Hannover, Germany

Abstract. In boreal forests an important part of the photo assimilates are allocated belowground to support ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) symbiosis. The production of EMF extramatrical mycelium can contribute to carbon (C) sequestration in soils but the extent of this contribution depends on the composition of the EMF community. Some species can decrease soil C stocks by degrading soil organic matter (SOM) and certain species may enhance soil C stocks by producing hydrophobic mycelia which can reduce the rate of SOM decomposition. To test how EMF communities contribute to the development of hydrophobicity in SOM we incubated sand-filled fungal-ingrowth meshbags amended with maize compost for one, two or three growing seasons in non-fertilized and fertilized plots in a young Norway spruce (Picea abies) forest. We measured hydrophobicity as determined by the contact angle, the C / N ratios in the meshbags contents along with the amount of new C entering the meshbags from outside (determined by C3 input to C4 substrate), and related that to the fungal community composition. The proportion of EMF species increased over time to become the dominant fungal guild after three growing seasons. Fertilization significantly reduced fungal growth and altered EMF communities. In the control plots the most abundant EMF species was Piloderma oliviceum, which was absent in the fertilized plots. The hydrophobicity of the meshbag contents reached the highest values after three growing seasons only in the unfertilized controls plots and was positively related to the abundance of P. olivaceum, the C / N ratios of the meshbag contents, and the amount of new C in the meshbags. These results suggest that some EMF species are associated with higher hydrophobicity of SOM and that EMF community shifts induced by fertilization may result in reduced hydrophobicity of soil organic matter which in turn may reduce C sequestration rates.

Juan Pablo Almeida et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2022-83', Mark Anthony, 11 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2022-83', Christopher Fernandez, 12 Apr 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on bg-2022-83', Anonymous Referee #3, 20 Apr 2022

Juan Pablo Almeida et al.

Juan Pablo Almeida et al.


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Short summary
Fungi living in symbiosis with tree roots can accumulate below ground forming special tissues than can repel water. We measured the water repellency of organic material incubated below ground and correlated it with fungal growth. We found a positive association between water repellency and root symbiotic fungi. These results are important because an increase in soil water repellency can reduce the release of CO2 from soils into the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of green house gasses.