Plant and Soil

, Volume 432, Issue 1–2, pp 157–170 | Cite as

Plant functional group influences arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal abundance and hyphal contribution to soil CO2 efflux in temperate grasslands

  • Weiyang Gui
  • Haiyan Ren
  • Nan Liu
  • Yingjun Zhang
  • Adam B. Cobb
  • Gail W. T. Wilson
  • Xiao Sun
  • Jian Hu
  • Yan Xiao
  • Fengge Zhang
  • Gaowen Yang
Regular Article


Background and aims

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are abundant in grassland ecosystem. We assessed AM hyphal contributions to soil CO2 efflux across plant functional groups to better quantify AM fungal influences on soil carbon dynamics.


We conducted a field experiment using in-growth mesocosms to partition soil CO2 efflux from roots, AM hyphae, and free-living soil microbes associated with C3 grasses, C4 grasses, forbs, and diverse plant communities from May to August in 2017.


AM hyphae contributed <10% to total soil respiration in forb communities and diverse plant communities but accounted for as much as 32% in C3 grasses. Plant functional groups differed in hyphal production efficiencies (the ratio of AM hyphal length to aboveground biomass), with the lowest in C3 grasses (0.47 ± 0.15 m g−1) and the greatest in forbs (3.27 ± 0.55 m g−1). Mowing reduced hyphal production efficiency of C4 grasses and forbs but did not affect total soil respiration. AM hyphal and microbial respiration peaked at the middle of the growing season, however there was no significant seasonal variation in root respiration.


AM hyphal respiration is an important pathway of carbon flux from plants to atmosphere. Shifts in plant community composition can influence soil carbon processes by regulating hyphal production and respiration.


Carbon cycle Defoliation Hyphal production efficiency Mowing Soil respiration 



We are grateful to Xingkang Li, Jihui Chen, Tao Gao, Wenjie Lu and Xin Yang for their help in collecting data and Stavros D. Veresoglou for his helpful comments on previous versions of this paper. This project was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31501996), Basic research program of Jiangsu province (Natural Science Foundation) - Youth Foundation (BK20150665; BK20160738) and Research Funds for the Central Universities (KJQN201601). We acknowledge the Duolun Restoration Ecology Station of the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for providing field facilities and a long-term meteorological dataset.

Supplementary material

11104_2018_3789_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.7 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1705 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Agro-grassland ScienceNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Grassland ScienceChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Natural Resource Ecology and ManagementOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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