Article

Ecosystems

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 1157-1167

Fungal Taxa Target Different Carbon Sources in Forest Soil

  • China A. HansonAffiliated withDepartments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Earth System Science, University of California Email author 
  • , Steven D. AllisonAffiliated withDepartments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Earth System Science, University of California
  • , Mark A. BradfordAffiliated withInstitute of Ecology, University of Georgia
  • , Matthew D. WallensteinAffiliated withNatural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • , Kathleen K. TresederAffiliated withDepartments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Earth System Science, University of California

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Abstract

Soil microbes are among the most abundant and diverse organisms on Earth. Although microbial decomposers, particularly fungi, are important mediators of global carbon and nutrient cycling, the functional roles of specific taxa within natural environments remain unclear. We used a nucleotide-analog technique in soils from the Harvard Forest to characterize the fungal taxa that responded to the addition of five different carbon substrates—glycine, sucrose, cellulose, lignin, and tannin-protein. We show that fungal community structure and richness shift in response to different carbon sources, and we demonstrate that particular fungal taxa target different organic compounds within soil microcosms. Specifically, we identified eleven taxa that exhibited changes in relative abundances across substrate treatments. These results imply that niche partitioning through specialized resource use may be an important mechanism by which soil microbial diversity is maintained in ecosystems. Consequently, high microbial diversity may be necessary to sustain ecosystem processes and stability under global change.

Key words

fungi soil microbial diversity community structure soil carbon decomposition resource partitioning ecosystem function nucleotide analog