Skip to main content

Relationships between fungal uptake of ammonium, fungal growth and nitrogen availability in ectomycorrhizal Pinus sylvestris seedlings


 Nitrogen deposition and intentional forest fertilisation with nitrogen are known to affect the species composition of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities. To learn more about the mechanisms responsible for these effects, the relations between fungal growth, nitrogen uptake and nitrogen availability were studied in ectomycorrhizal fungi in axenic cultures and in symbiosis with pine seedlings. Effects of different levels of inorganic nitrogen (NH4) on the mycelial growth of four isolates of Paxillus involutus and two isolates of Suillus bovinus were assessed. With pine seedlings, fungal uptake of 15N-labelled NH4 was studied in short-term incubation experiments (72 h) in microcosms and in long-term incubation experiments (3 months) in pot cultures. For P. involutus growing in symbiosis with pine seedlings, isolates with higher NH4 uptake were affected more negatively at high levels of nitrogen availability than isolates with lower uptake. More NH4 was allocated to shoots of seedlings colonised by a high-uptake isolate, indicating transfer of a larger fraction of assimilated NH4 to the host than with isolates showing lower NH4 uptake rates. Thus low rates of N uptake and N transfer to the host may enable EM fungi avoid stress induced by elevated levels of nitrogen. Seedlings colonised by S. bovinus transferred a larger fraction of the 15N label to the shoots than seedlings colonised by P. involutus. Seedling shoot growth probably constituted a greater carbon sink in pot cultures than in microcosms, since the mycelial growth of P. involutus was more sensitive to high NH4 in pots. There was no homology in mycelial growth rate between pure culture and growth in symbiosis, but N uptake in pure culture corresponded to that during growth in symbiosis. No relationship was found between deposition of antropogenic nitrogen at the sites of origin of the P. involutus isolates and their mycelial growth or uptake of inorganic nitrogen.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information



Additional information

Accepted: 18 September 1998

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wallander, H., Arnebrant, K. & Dahlberg, A. Relationships between fungal uptake of ammonium, fungal growth and nitrogen availability in ectomycorrhizal Pinus sylvestris seedlings. Mycorrhiza 8, 215–223 (1999).

Download citation

  • Key words Ammonium
  • Ergosterol
  • Extramatrical mycelium
  • Paxillus
  • Suillus