Mycorrhizal status influences the rate but not the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration

J. Adam Langley, Nancy C. Johnson, George W. Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Mycorrhizal fungi, which can produce a large portion of total soil respiration, respond strongly to global changes such as elevated CO2, N-deposition, and land-use change. Predictions of future ecosystem C sequestration hinge on respiration budgets, but the mycorrhizal influence on total soil respiration remains unknown. In this study, sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) were subjected to various mycorrhizal treatments, and their root and soil systems were enclosed in chambers that continuously monitored belowground (root + mycorrhizal + heterotrophic) CO2 production during plant growth, death, and decomposition. Rhizocosms with high mycorrhizal colonization exhibited higher soil respiration rates as plants matured, an increase that was in proportion to the mycorrhizal stimulation of plant growth. Living mycorrhizal plants behaved like nonmycorrhizal ones in that total rhizocosm respiration had the same relationship to plant mass and the same temperature sensitivity as nonmycorrhizal plants. Upon removal of the shoots though, mycorrhizal plants exhibited the largest relative reduction in respiration resulting in a unique relationship of soil respiration with plant mass. The mycorrhizal influence on heterotrophic respiration merits as much attention from experimenters and modelers as the mycorrhizal contribution to autotrophic respiration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Autotrophic
  • Heterotrophic
  • Soil respiration
  • Sunflower

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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