Do fungi differ? Understanding the mechanisms of mycorrhizal fungal impacts on soil C sequestration
How presence, abundance and enzymatic activities of AM and EM fungi differently affect soil carbon sequestration processes?
This project aims to understand how distinct species of mycorrhizal fungi affect processes of soil carbon sequestration.
An important biotic determinant of soil carbon transformations is mycorrhiza, a plant-fungal symbiosis featured by nearly all vascular plants on Earth. Mycorrhizae have different forms, among which arbuscular and ectomycorrhiza (AM and EM) are the most wide-spread. Until recently, mycorrhizal impact on ecosystem carbon turnover has mostly been linked to the supporting role of mycorrhiza in plant nutrient uptake, i.e. through its impacts on plant net primary production and litter quality. However, recently accumulated evidence suggests that the presence of mycorrhizal fungi in soil also directly, i.e. via biomass turnover and enzymatic activity of extraradical mycorrhizal fungal mycelium (found outside of plant roots), affect soil carbon sequestration. In this project we conduct in-depth investigations on the causal mechanisms through which AM and EM fungi affect total soil carbon stocks.