Does forest liming impact the enzymatic profiles of ectomycorrhizal communities through specialized fungal symbionts?
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Liming (Ca–Mg soil amendment) is a forestry practice used to correct soil acidification and restore health and productivity in declining stands. Liming is known to modify tree mineral nutrition beyond the sole Ca and Mg. We hypothesized that liming also modifies the very functioning of the tree absorbing system (that is the ectomycorrhizal fine roots) in a way that facilitates the mobilization of mineral nutrients, particularly those entrapped in soil organic matter. This hypothesis has been tested here in beech and Norway spruce stands in North-Eastern France. In autumn, we compared the ectomycorrhizal community structure and the enzymatic profiles of ectomycorrhizal root tips in limed and untreated plots by measuring the activities of eight enzymes related to the degradation of soil organic matter. The results show that the ectomycorrhizal community responds to the Ca–Mg amendment and to the resulting soil modifications by modified enzyme activity profiles and ability to mobilize nutrients from soil organic matter. The effects of liming on the belowground functioning of the tree stands result essentially from specialized ECM fungal species such as Clavulina cristata (with strong glucuronidase activity), Lactarius subdulcis (with strong laccase activity) or Xerocomus pruinatus (with strong leucine aminopeptidase activity).
KeywordsCa–Mg soil amendment Ectomycorrhizal community Secreted enzymatic activities Nutrient mobilization Functional specialization
We thank Dr. C. Nys for providing the experimental site of Humont and for his expertise about liming, and the Office National des Forêts for allowing us to sample roots in the experimental plots. The PhD scholarship of the first author was partly supported by the Lorraine Region. Part of this work has been funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (FUNDIV project ANR-06-BDIV-006-01). The authors are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.
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