Simulated nitrogen deposition causes a decline of Intra- and Extraradical abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and Changes in microbial community structure in northern hardwood forests

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Increased nitrogen (N) deposition caused by human activities has altered ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. To understand the effects of altered N availability, we measured the abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and the microbial community in northern hardwood forests exposed to long-term (12 years) simulated N deposition (30 kg N ha-1 y -1) using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis and hyphal in-growth bags. Intra- and extraradical AMF biomass and total microbial biomass were significantly decreased by simulated N deposition by 36, 41, and 24%, respectively. Both methods of extraradical AMF biomass estimation (soil PLFA 16:1ω5c and hyphal in-growth bags) showed comparable treatment responses, and extraradical biomass represented the majority of total (intra-plus extraradical) AMF biomass. N deposition also significantly affected the microbial community structure, leading to a 10% decrease in fungal to bacterial biomass ratios. Our observed decline in AMF and total microbial biomass together with changes in microbial community structure could have substantial impacts on the nutrient and carbon cycling within northern hardwood forest ecosystems.

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