Tracking carbon from the atmosphere to the rhizosphere

Pål A. Olsson, Nancy C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Turnover rates of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi may influence storage of soil organic carbon (SOC). We examined the longevity of AM hyphae in monoxenic cultures; and we also used 13C incorporation into signature fatty acids to study C dynamics in a mycorrhizal symbiosis involving Glomus intraradices and Plantago lanceolata. 13C enrichment of signature fatty acids showed rapid transfer of plant assimilates to AM fungi and a gradual release of C from roots to rhizosphere bacteria, but at a much slower rate. Furthermore, most C assimilated by AM fungi remained 32 days after labelling. These findings indicate that 13C labelled fatty acids can be used to track C flux from the atmosphere to the rhizosphere and that retention of C in AM fungal mycelium may contribute significantly to SOC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1264-1270
Number of pages7
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Bacteria
  • C
  • Carbon cycling
  • Glomus intraradices
  • Plantago lanceolata
  • Signature fatty acids
  • Stable isotope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Tracking carbon from the atmosphere to the rhizosphere'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this