Root-associated fungi and acquisitive root traits facilitate permafrost nitrogen uptake from long-term experimentally warmed tundra

Rebecca E. Hewitt, M. Rae DeVan, D. Lee Taylor, Michelle C. Mack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Root-associated fungi (RAF) and root traits regulate plant acquisition of nitrogen (N), which is limiting to growth in Arctic ecosystems. With anthropogenic warming, a new N source from thawing permafrost has the potential to change vegetation composition and increase productivity, influencing climate feedbacks. Yet, the impact of warming on tundra plant root traits, RAF, and access to permafrost N is uncertain. We investigated the relationships between RAF, species-specific root traits, and uptake of N from the permafrost boundary by tundra plants experimentally warmed for nearly three decades at Toolik Lake, Alaska. Warming increased acquisitive root traits of nonmycorrhizal and mycorrhizal plants. RAF community composition of ericoid (ERM) but not ectomycorrhizal (ECM) shrubs was impacted by warming and correlated with root traits. RAF taxa in the dark septate endophyte, ERM, and ECM guilds strongly correlated with permafrost N uptake for ECM and ERM shrubs. Overall, a greater proportion of variation in permafrost N uptake was related to root traits than RAF. Our findings suggest that warming Arctic ecosystems will result in interactions between roots, RAF, and newly thawed permafrost that may strongly impact feedbacks to the climate system through mechanisms of carbon and N cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Phytologist
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Alaska
  • dark septate endophyte
  • ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • ericoid mycorrhizal fungi
  • isotope N
  • moist acidic tundra
  • shrub expansion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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