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14C transfer between the spring ephemeral Erythronium americanum and sugar maple saplings via arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in natural stands

  • Ecophysiology
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Abstract.

We investigated in the field the carbon (C) transfer between sugar maple (Acer saccharum) saplings and the spring ephemeral Erythronium americanum via the mycelium of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Sugar maple saplings and E. americanum plants were planted together in pots placed in the ground of a maple forest in 1999. Ectomycorrhizal yellow birches (Betula alleghaniensis) were added as control plants. In spring 2000, during leaf expansion of sugar maple saplings, the leaves of E. americanum were labelled with 14CO2. Seven days after labelling, radioactivity was detected in leaves, stem and roots of sugar maples. Specific radioactivity in sugar maples was 13-fold higher than in yellow birches revealing the occurrence of a direct transfer of 14C between the AM plants. The quantity of 14C transferred to sugar maple saplings was negatively correlated with the percentage of 14C allocated to the storage organ of E. americanum. A second labelling was performed in autumn 2000 on sugar maple leaves during annual growth of E. americanum roots. Radioactivity was detected in 7 of 22 E. americanum root systems and absent in yellow birches. These results suggest that AM fungi connecting different understorey species can act as reciprocal C transfer bridges between plant species in relation with the phenology of the plants involved.

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Correspondence to Sylvain Lerat.

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Lerat, S., Gauci, R., Catford, J.G. et al. 14C transfer between the spring ephemeral Erythronium americanum and sugar maple saplings via arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in natural stands. Oecologia 132, 181–187 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-002-0958-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-002-0958-9

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