Competition for nitrogen between Pinus sylvestris and ectomycorrhizal fungi generates potential for negative feedback under elevated CO2

Alberton, O.; Kuyper, T.W.; Gorissen, A.


We investigated fungal species-specific responses of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings on growth and nutrient acquisition together with mycelial development under ambient and elevated CO2. Each seedling was associated with one of the following ECM species: Hebeloma cylindrosporum, Laccaria bicolor, Suillus bovinus, S. luteus, Piloderma croceum, Paxillus involutus, Boletus badius, or non-mycorrhizal, under ambient, and elevated CO2 (350 or 700 ¿l l¿1 CO2); each treatment contained six replicates. The trial lasted 156 days. During the final 28 days, the seedlings were labeled with 14CO2. We measured hyphal length, plant biomass, 14C allocation, and plant nitrogen and phosphorus concentration. Almost all parameters were significantly affected by fungal species and/or CO2. There were very few significant interactions. Elevated CO2 decreased shoot-to-root ratio, most strongly so in species with the largest extraradical mycelium. Under elevated CO2, ECM root growth increased significantly more than hyphal growth. Extraradical hyphal length was significantly negatively correlated with shoot biomass, shoot N content, and total plant N uptake. Root dry weight was significantly negatively correlated with root N and P concentration. Fungal sink strength for N strongly affected plant growth through N immobilization. Mycorrhizal fungal-induced progressive nitrogen limitation (PNL) has the potential to generate negative feedback with plant growth under elevated CO2.