Sphagnum Species Modulate their Phenolic Profiles and Mycorrhizal Colonization of Surrounding Andromeda polifolia along Peatland Microhabitats
Sphagnum mosses mediate long-term carbon accumulation in peatlands. Given their functional role as keystone species, it is important to consider their responses to ecological gradients and environmental changes through the production of phenolics. We compared the extent to which Sphagnum phenolic production was dependent on species, microhabitats and season, and how surrounding dwarf shrubs responded to Sphagnum phenolics. We evaluated the phenolic profiles of aqueous extracts of Sphagnum fallax and Sphagnum magellanicum over a 6-month period in two microhabitats (wet lawns versus dry hummocks) in a French peatland. Phenolic profiles of water-soluble extracts were measured by UHPLC-QTOF-MS. Andromeda polifolia mycorrhizal colonization was quantified by assessing the intensity of global root cortex colonization. Phenolic profiles of both Sphagnum mosses were species-, season- and microhabitat- dependant. Sphagnum-derived acids were the phenolics mostly recovered; relative quantities were 2.5-fold higher in S. fallax than in S. magellanicum. Microtopography and vascular plant cover strongly influenced phenolic profiles, especially for minor metabolites present in low abundance. Higher mycorrhizal colonization of A. polifolia was found in lawns as compared to hummocks. Mycorrhizal abundance, in contrast to environmental parameters, was correlated with production of minor phenolics in S. fallax. Our results highlight the close interaction between mycorrhizae such as those colonizing A. polifolia and the release of Sphagnum phenolic metabolites and suggest that Sphagnum-derived acids and minor phenolics play different roles in this interaction. This work provides new insight into the ecological role of Sphagnum phenolics by proposing a strong association with mycorrhizal colonization of shrubs.
KeywordsEricaceous Andromeda polifolia Mycorrhizal colonization Peatland microhabitats Phenolic profiles Plant soil-interactions Sphagnum mosses
This research was supported by the French National Agency for the ANR PeatWarm project (ANR-07-VUL-010) and the Pays Montbéliard Agglomération (France) and Nathalie Islam-Frénoy (Translator, University Hospital of Besançon, France) for her fruitful comments on the manuscript and English edits.
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