3 years ago

Saprotrophic and ectomycorrhizal fungal sporocarp stoichiometry (C : N : P) across temperate rainforests as evidence of shared nutrient constraints among symbionts

Barbara J. Hawkins, J. Marty Kranabetter, Rachael Harman‐Denhoed

Summary

  • Quantifying nutritional dynamics of free‐living saprotrophs and symbiotic ectomycorrhizal fungi in the field is challenging, but the stoichiometry of fruiting bodies (sporocarps) may be an effective methodology for this purpose.
  • Carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations of soils, foliage and 146 sporocarp collections were analyzed from 14 Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii stands across a podzolization gradient on Vancouver Island (Canada).
  • N and P concentrations were considerably higher in saprotrophic fungi. Fungal N% increased with soil N content at a greater rate for saprotrophs than ectomycorrhizal fungi, while fungal P% of saprotrophs was more constrained. Fungal N : P was more responsive to soil N : P for ectomycorrhizal fungi (homeostatic regulation coefficient ‘H’ = 2.9) than saprotrophs (H = 5.9), while N : P of ectomycorrhizal fungi and host tree foliage scaled almost identically.
  • Results underscore the role of ectomycorrhizal fungi as nutrient conduits, supporting host trees, whereas saprotrophs maintain a greater degree of nutritional homeostasis. Site nutrient constraints were shared in equal measure between ectomycorrhizal fungi and host trees, particularly for P, suggesting neither partner benefits from enhanced nutrition at the expense of the other. Sporocarp stoichiometry provides new insights into mycorrhizal relationships and illustrates pervasive P deficiencies across temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.

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