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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Variation in hyphal production rather than turnover regulates standing fungal biomass in temperate hardwood forests

Cheeke, Tanya; Phillips, Richard P.; Kuhn , Alexander; Rosling, Anna; Fransson, Petra


Soil fungi link above‐ and belowground carbon (C) fluxes through their interactions with plants and contribute to C and nutrient dynamics through the production, turnover, and activity of fungal hyphae. Despite their importance to ecosystem processes, estimates of hyphal production and turnover rates are relatively uncommon, especially in temperate hardwood forests. We sequentially harvested hyphal ingrowth bags to quantify the rates of Dikarya (Ascomycota and Basidiomycota) hyphal production and turnover in three hardwood forests in the Midwestern United States, where plots differed in their abundance of arbuscular (AM)‐ vs. ectomycorrhizal (ECM)‐associated trees. Hyphal production rates increased linearly with the percentage of ECM trees and annual production rates were 66% higher in ECM‐ than AM‐dominated plots. Hyphal turnover rates did not differ across the mycorrhizal gradient (plots varying in their abundance of AM vs. ECM trees), suggesting that the greater fungal biomass in ECM‐dominated plots relates to greater fungal production rather than slower fungal turnover. Differences in hyphal production across the gradient aligned with distinctly different fungal communities and activities. As ECM trees increased in dominance, fungi inside ingrowth bags produced more extracellular enzymes involved in degrading nitrogen (N)‐bearing relative to C‐bearing compounds, suggesting greater fungal (and possibly plant) N demand in ECM‐dominated soils. Collectively, our results demonstrate that shifts in temperate tree species composition that result in changes in the dominant type of mycorrhizal association may have strong impacts on Dikarya hyphal production, fungal community composition and extracellular enzyme activity, with important consequences for soil C and N cycling.


Dikarya fungal biomass; ergosterol; hyphal ingrowth bags; hyphal production; hyphal turnover; mycelium; mycorrhizal type; temperate forest

Published in

2021, Volume: 102, number: 3, article number: e03260