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Research article2014Peer reviewed

Fungal but not bacterial soil communities recover after termination of decadal nitrogen additions to boreal forest

N. Högberg, Mona; Yarwood, Stephanie A.; Myrold, David. D.


The rate at which formerly nitrogen loaded forests will return to their natural nitrogen-limited state is of considerable scientific and societal interest. Yet the sensitivity of soil microorganisms to these putative changes is mainly unknown. We report effects on fungal and bacterial communities caused by two decades of chronic nitrogen fertilization and subsequent changes 14 years after termination of nitrogen load. We compare these changes in community composition with those observed in natural nitrogen supply and pH gradients using DNA fingerprinting methods and Sanger sequencing.Soil fungal ITS length-heterogeneity profiles correlated equally well to carbon-to-nitrogen ratios and pH. Sequencing results indicated a clear decrease in the relative abundance of amplicons ascribed to known ectomycorrhizal fungi in both natural and experimental high nitrogen conditions, and a recovery of species in the terminated nitrogen treatment. The dominant sequences in low nitrogen soils were identified as members of Piloderma spp. Terminal restriction fragment length profiles of the bacterial 165 rRNA gene were linked to carbon-to-nitrogen ratios and pH in the natural locations but to soil nitrogen in the nitrogen addition experiment that had low variability in pH. Sequencing revealed the dominance of Acidobacteria and Proteobacteria in all soils but also showed a marked increase in Bacteroidetes in high nitrogen treatment not evident in the natural high nitrogen and high pH environments. Proteobacteria sequences included described strains from high-organic and low-pH systems that are believed be involved in degradation of complex plant material.There were signs of recovery of fungal but not of bacterial communities in the sense that community's in terminated nitrogen addition plots did not differ significantly from those in control plots or from the low nitrogen stands in the natural nitrogen supply gradient. The need of further examination of the seemingly functionally redundant bacterial communities is stressed. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Ectomycorrhizal fungi; Bacteroidetes; Carbon-to-nitrogen ratio; Chronic nitrogen fertilization; Inorganic nitrogen; Piloderma; pH; Recovery

Published in

Soil Biology and Biochemistry
2014, Volume: 72, pages: 35-43
Publisher: Elsevier

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