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Plant roots increase both decomposition and stable organic matter formation in boreal forest soil

Journal article
Authors B. Adamczyk
O. M. Sietio
P. Strakoya
J. Prommer
Birgit Wild
M. Hagner
M. Pihlatie
H. Fritze
A. Richter
J. Heinonsalo
Published in Nature Communications
Volume 10
ISSN 2041-1723
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11993...
Keywords ectomycorrhizal fungi, litter decomposition, carbon sequestration, sugar, maple, nitrogen, communities, tannins, polyphenols, mycorrhiza, storage, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories Ecology

Abstract

Boreal forests are ecosystems with low nitrogen (N) availability that store globally significant amounts of carbon (C), mainly in plant biomass and soil organic matter (SOM). Although crucial for future climate change predictions, the mechanisms controlling boreal C and N pools are not well understood. Here, using a three-year field experiment, we compare SOM decomposition and stabilization in the presence of roots, with exclusion of roots but presence of fungal hyphae and with exclusion of both roots and fungal hyphae. Roots accelerate SOM decomposition compared to the root exclusion treatments, but also promote a different soil N economy with higher concentrations of organic soil N compared to inorganic soil N accompanied with the build-up of stable SOM-N. In contrast, root exclusion leads to an inorganic soil N economy (i.e., high level of inorganic N) with reduced stable SOM-N buildup. Based on our findings, we provide a framework on how plant roots affect SOM decomposition and stabilization.

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