Imprint of tree species mycorrhizal association on microbial-mediated enzyme activity and stoichiometry

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1. Understanding the effects of tree species and their mycorrhizal association on soil processes is critical for predicting the ecosystem consequences of species shifts owing to global change and forest management decisions. While it is well established that forests dominated by different mycorrhizal types can vary in how they cycle carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), the degree to which these patterns are driven by microbial-mediated enzyme activity (EA) and ecoenzymatic stoichiometry (ES) remains elusive.
2. Here, we synthesized the effects of mycorrhizal association on seven soil enzymes involved in microbial C, N and P acquisition and ES using data from 56 peer-reviewed papers.
3. We found that relative to soil in ectomycorrhizal (EcM) trees, soil in arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) trees exhibited greater activity of some C acquisition enzymes (e.g. beta-glucosidase; BG) and higher ecoenzymatic ratios of BG/NAG (N-acetyl-glucosaminidase) and BG/AP (acid phosphatase). These results supported that AM trees had rapid C and nutrient turnover rates, inorganic nutrient economics and high soil microbial C limitation. We also found evidence for an organic nutrient economy and greater soil microbial demand for nutrients in EcM trees compared to AM trees. In addition, the effect of mycorrhizal association on the activity of certain soil enzymes and enzymatic stoichiometry (i.e. BG and BG/NAG ratio) appeared to be associated with the differences in soil pH, phylogenetic group (i.e. conifers and broadleaves) and leaf habit (i.e. evergreen and deciduous) between AM and EcM trees.
4. The results from the global meta-analysis suggested that soil EA and ES appear to play critical roles in shaping the differences in the nutrient economy between AM and EcM tree species, but leaf morphology and soil conditions should be considered in evaluations of soil processes in forests of different mycorrhizal associations. Given that most of the studies in the database were from the temperate and subtropical regions, further research in other biomes is needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms driving the mycorrhizal effect at the global scale.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFunctional Ecology
Pages (from-to)1366-1376
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 338945750