|Title||Fine roots and mycorrhizal fungi accelerate leaf litter decomposition in a northern hardwood forest regardless of dominant tree mycorrhizal associations|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2021|
|Authors||Lang, AK, Jevon, FV, Vietorisz, CR, Ayres, MP, Matthes, JHatala|
|Pagination||316 - 326|
|Keywords||Extracellular enzymes, Fine roots, Gadgil effect, litter decomposition, LTER-HBR, mycorrhizal fungi|
●Fine roots and mycorrhizal fungi may either stimulate leaf litter decomposition by providing free-living decomposers with root-derived carbon, or may slow decomposition through nutrient competition between mycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi. ●We reduced the presence of fine roots and their associated mycorrhizal fungi in a northern hardwood forest in New Hampshire, USA by soil trenching. Plots spanned a mycorrhizal gradient from 96% arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations to 100% ectomycorrhizal (ECM)-associated tree basal area. We incubated four species of leaf litter within these plots in areas with reduced access to roots and mycorrhizal fungi and in adjacent areas with intact roots and mycorrhizal fungi. ●Over a period of 608 d, we found that litter decayed more rapidly in the presence of fine roots and mycorrhizal hyphae regardless of the dominant tree mycorrhizal association. Root and mycorrhizal exclusion reduced the activity of acid phosphatase on decomposing litter. ●Our results indicate that both AM- and ECM-associated fine roots stimulate litter decomposition in this system. These findings suggest that the effect of fine roots and mycorrhizal fungi on litter decay in a particular ecosystem likely depends on whether interactions between mycorrhizal roots and saprotrophic fungi are antagonistic or facilitative.