Role of inter-specific ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity for forest ecosystem nutrition

The main goal of this project is to characterize the inter-specific diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) for phosphorus (P) uptake and tree nutrition in P acquiring and recycling beech tree ecosystems. Five research sites were chosen across Germany, which constitute a gradient of decreasing available P content in the order of Bad Brückenau, Mitterfels, Vessertal, Conventwald and Unterlüß, respectively. Beech fine roots under natural conditions are known to form symbiotic relationships with ectomycorrhizae, being virtually completely colonized by their fungal partners. This allows the host plant improved access to soil nutrients in return for photosynthetically fixed carbon. To investigate the EMF species diversity at each research site, soil cores were taken, and the fine roots morphotyped using a stereo microscope prior to DNA sequencing of the fungal marker ITS region. The influence of soil chemical properties on tree nutrition and EMF species diversity was investigated by characterizing the soil nutrient status. Seasonal changes of the EMF assemblages from Bad Brückenau and Unterlüß were investigated using trees with original soil in a common garden experiment. Young beech trees were excavated from both contrasting sites and periodically harvested after labelling with 33P. Uptake of radioactive label in beech buds, leaves, stem and roots including EMF root tips was measured using a scintillator counter. This allowed us to elucidate any differences between the ability of the EMF assemblage to take up P, and translocate it to its host plant.


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Publications and Dissemination

Publications
Yang N, Zavisic, A, Pena R, Polle A (2016) Phenology, photosynthesis, and phosphorus in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) in two forest soils with contrasting P contents. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, accepted (2016). DOI: 10.1002/jpln.201500539

Theses:
Wardius Yanik (2015). Phenological examination of young beech trees from two contrasting P availability sites. Bachelor thesis. University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Yang Nan (2015). Performance of forest trees and mycorrhizas in response to varying nutrients. Doctoral thesis. University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Posters
Zavisic A, Yang N, Heuck C, Spohn M, Pena R, Polle A (2014) Ectomycorrhizal community structure changes in relation to a phosphorus gradient in acquiring and recycling forest ecosystems. Ecosystem Nutrition Conference, Freising, Germany (16-17 Sep 2014)

Zavisic A, Yang N, Nassal P, Spohn M, Pena R, Franke-Klein M, Lehmann G, Klein T, Kandeler E, Polle A (2015) Seasonal analysis of P uptake and ectomycorrhizal diversity in young beech trees. Annual Meeting SPP 1685 & Ecosystem Nutrition 2015 Conference, Dipperz, Germany (1-3 July 2015)

Presentations
Polle A (2016) The Competition for Phosphorus between Plants Associated with Arbuscular and Ectomycorrhizal Fungi. Ecosystem Nutrition Conference, Freising, Germany (16-17 Sep 2014)

Polle A (2015) Ectomycorrhizal communities in relation to a phosphorus gradient. Annual Meeting SPP 1685 & Ecosystem

Zavisic A (2015): Project overview & first results. Cluster meeting, Helmholtz Zentrum München - Research Unit Environmental Genomic, Germany (10 Sep 2015)

Zavisic A (2014) Ectomycorrhizal community structure changes in relation to a phosphorus gradient. Forstbotanisches Seminar, Department of Forest Botany and Tree Physiology, University of Göttingen, Germany (10 Nov 2014)


Funding acknowledgement

This project has received funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to the 329 Priority Program 1685 "Ecosystem Nutrition" (Po362/22-1).