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Symbiotic soil fungi enhance resistance and resilience of an experimental grassland to drought and nitrogen deposition


Jia, Yangyang; van der Heijden, Marcel G A; Wagg, Cameron; Feng, Gu; Walder, Florian (2020). Symbiotic soil fungi enhance resistance and resilience of an experimental grassland to drought and nitrogen deposition. Journal of Ecology:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Ecosystem stability is threatened by multiple global change factors such as drought and elevated nitrogen deposition. Yet, it is still poorly understood whether soil organisms can buffer against such perturbations. Here we focus on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), a common and widespread group of soil fungi. AMF form symbiotic associations with the majority of terrestrial land plants and promote a range of ecosystem services including plant production, diversity and nutrient cycling.
We tested whether AMF have the ability to enhance the resistance and resilience of plant communities under soil moisture deficit (hereby drought) and nitrogen deposition. Grassland microcosms with 11 different plant species were established with and without AMF and exposed to elevated nitrogen levels and to an intermittent period of drought.
Drought strongly reduced plant productivity and nitrogen cycling, but had limited effects on plant diversity. Nitrogen enrichment reduced plant diversity and increased nitrogen leaching and N2O emissions. The presence of AMF enhanced plant productivity, plant diversity and reduced nitrogen losses. AMF facilitated the resistance of plant productivity and nitrogen cycling to drought and the recovery of the plant community structure back to its pre drought state. Furthermore, AMF also mitigated the adverse effects of nitrogen enrichment on the resistance of multiple ecosystem functions to drought.
Synthesis. Our work highlights the integral role of AMF for the stability of ecosystem functioning; AMF are not only able to promote resistance to harsh conditions of global change but also improve resilience by enabling plant communities to recover. These findings underline AMF's insurance capacity to buffer ecosystems against global change.

Abstract

Ecosystem stability is threatened by multiple global change factors such as drought and elevated nitrogen deposition. Yet, it is still poorly understood whether soil organisms can buffer against such perturbations. Here we focus on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), a common and widespread group of soil fungi. AMF form symbiotic associations with the majority of terrestrial land plants and promote a range of ecosystem services including plant production, diversity and nutrient cycling.
We tested whether AMF have the ability to enhance the resistance and resilience of plant communities under soil moisture deficit (hereby drought) and nitrogen deposition. Grassland microcosms with 11 different plant species were established with and without AMF and exposed to elevated nitrogen levels and to an intermittent period of drought.
Drought strongly reduced plant productivity and nitrogen cycling, but had limited effects on plant diversity. Nitrogen enrichment reduced plant diversity and increased nitrogen leaching and N2O emissions. The presence of AMF enhanced plant productivity, plant diversity and reduced nitrogen losses. AMF facilitated the resistance of plant productivity and nitrogen cycling to drought and the recovery of the plant community structure back to its pre drought state. Furthermore, AMF also mitigated the adverse effects of nitrogen enrichment on the resistance of multiple ecosystem functions to drought.
Synthesis. Our work highlights the integral role of AMF for the stability of ecosystem functioning; AMF are not only able to promote resistance to harsh conditions of global change but also improve resilience by enabling plant communities to recover. These findings underline AMF's insurance capacity to buffer ecosystems against global change.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Life Sciences > Plant Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Plant Science, Ecology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:20 October 2020
Deposited On:17 Dec 2020 08:45
Last Modified:27 Jan 2021 22:58
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0022-0477
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13521

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