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Controls over mycorrhizal uptake of organic nitrogen


Mycorrhizal plants from a variety of ecosystems have the capacity to take up organic forms of nitrogen, yet the fraction of plant nitrogen demand met by organic N (ON) uptake remains unclear. ON uptake by mycorrhizal plants is a biochemical process that involves multiple steps, including breakdown and uptake of soil ON by mycorrhizal fungi, internal transformation of ON, and transfer of N to the host plant. We present hypothetical mechanisms controlling each of these steps and outline predictions for how these mechanisms structure patterns of ON uptake by mycorrhizal plants in ecosystems. Using a synthesis of published data, we found that uptake of amino acids by mycorrhizal fungi is related to the relative abundance, N content, and carbon structure of the amino acid. We hypothesize that the bond strength and structural diversity of soil ON controls the breakdown of polymeric ON by mycorrhizal fungi. In addition, the availability of carbon resources for the mycorrhizal fungus influences the capacity for mycorrhizal fungi to assimilate amino acids and produce extracellular enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of polymeric ON. © 2009 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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