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A phosphorus threshold for mycoheterotrophic plants in tropical forests

Sheldrake, Merlin; Rosenstock, Nicholas P. LU ; Revillini, Daniel; Olsson, Pål Axel LU ; Joseph Wright, S. and Turner, Benjamin L. (2017) In Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284(1848).
Abstract

The majority of terrestrial plants associate with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, which typically facilitate the uptake of limiting mineral nutrients by plants in exchange for plant carbon. However, hundreds of non-photosynthetic plant species—mycoheterotrophs—depend entirely on AM fungi for carbon as well as mineral nutrition. Mycoheterotrophs can provide insight into the operation and regulation of AM fungal relationships, but little is known about the factors, fungal or otherwise, that affect mycoheterotroph abundance and distribution. In a lowland tropical forest in Panama, we conducted the first systematic investigation into the influence of abiotic factors on the abundance and distribution of mycoheterotrophs, to ask whether... (More)

The majority of terrestrial plants associate with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, which typically facilitate the uptake of limiting mineral nutrients by plants in exchange for plant carbon. However, hundreds of non-photosynthetic plant species—mycoheterotrophs—depend entirely on AM fungi for carbon as well as mineral nutrition. Mycoheterotrophs can provide insight into the operation and regulation of AM fungal relationships, but little is known about the factors, fungal or otherwise, that affect mycoheterotroph abundance and distribution. In a lowland tropical forest in Panama, we conducted the first systematic investigation into the influence of abiotic factors on the abundance and distribution of mycoheterotrophs, to ask whether the availability of nitrogen and phosphorus altered the occurrence of mycoheterotrophs and their AM fungal partners. Across a natural fertility gradient spanning the isthmus of Panama, and also in a long-term nutrientaddition experiment, mycoheterotrophs were entirely absent when soil exchangeable phosphate concentrations exceeded 2 mg P kg21. Experimental phosphorus addition reduced the abundance of AM fungi, and also reduced the abundance of the specific AM fungal taxa required by the mycoheterotrophs, suggesting that the phosphorus sensitivity of mycoheterotrophs is underpinned by the phosphorus sensitivity of their AM fungal hosts. The soil phosphorus concentration of 2 mg P kg21 also corresponds to a marked shift in tree community composition and soil phosphatase activity across the fertility gradient, suggesting that our findings have broad ecological significance.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, Epiparisitism, Mycoheterotroph, Phosphorus, Tropical forest
in
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
volume
284
issue
1848
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • scopus:85012078084
  • wos:000393750000005
ISSN
0962-8452
DOI
10.1098/rspb.2016.2093
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
78d9d725-ed71-4ce8-92a4-f8b39adb0cc2
date added to LUP
2017-02-27 14:24:21
date last changed
2018-01-07 11:53:00
@article{78d9d725-ed71-4ce8-92a4-f8b39adb0cc2,
  abstract     = {<p>The majority of terrestrial plants associate with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, which typically facilitate the uptake of limiting mineral nutrients by plants in exchange for plant carbon. However, hundreds of non-photosynthetic plant species—mycoheterotrophs—depend entirely on AM fungi for carbon as well as mineral nutrition. Mycoheterotrophs can provide insight into the operation and regulation of AM fungal relationships, but little is known about the factors, fungal or otherwise, that affect mycoheterotroph abundance and distribution. In a lowland tropical forest in Panama, we conducted the first systematic investigation into the influence of abiotic factors on the abundance and distribution of mycoheterotrophs, to ask whether the availability of nitrogen and phosphorus altered the occurrence of mycoheterotrophs and their AM fungal partners. Across a natural fertility gradient spanning the isthmus of Panama, and also in a long-term nutrientaddition experiment, mycoheterotrophs were entirely absent when soil exchangeable phosphate concentrations exceeded 2 mg P kg<sup>21</sup>. Experimental phosphorus addition reduced the abundance of AM fungi, and also reduced the abundance of the specific AM fungal taxa required by the mycoheterotrophs, suggesting that the phosphorus sensitivity of mycoheterotrophs is underpinned by the phosphorus sensitivity of their AM fungal hosts. The soil phosphorus concentration of 2 mg P kg<sup>21</sup> also corresponds to a marked shift in tree community composition and soil phosphatase activity across the fertility gradient, suggesting that our findings have broad ecological significance.</p>},
  articleno    = {20162093},
  author       = {Sheldrake, Merlin and Rosenstock, Nicholas P. and Revillini, Daniel and Olsson, Pål Axel and Joseph Wright, S. and Turner, Benjamin L.},
  issn         = {0962-8452},
  keyword      = {Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi,Epiparisitism,Mycoheterotroph,Phosphorus,Tropical forest},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {02},
  number       = {1848},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences},
  title        = {A phosphorus threshold for mycoheterotrophic plants in tropical forests},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.2093},
  volume       = {284},
  year         = {2017},
}