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Extracellular enzyme activity in the mycorrhizospheres of a boreal fire chronosequence

  • Author(s): Gartner, Tracy B
  • Treseder, Kathleen K
  • Malcolm, Glenna M
  • Sinsabaugh, Robert L
  • et al.

Saprotrophic microbes are typically credited with producing extracellular enzymes that recycle organic matter, though roots and mycorrhizal fungi also can contribute and may compete with the saprotrophs. We examined extracellular enzyme activity associated with the mycorrhizospheres of arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal, dual-colonized (arbuscular and ectomycorrhizal), and ericoid mycorrhizal plants in a fire chronosequence in Alaska. Bulk soil and soil from beneath host plants were gathered in July 2004 and assayed for five enzymes that target organic C, P, and N substrates. Compared to bulk soil, activities of the C-targeting enzymes β-1,4-glucosidase and peroxidase were lower in arbuscular mycorrhizospheres and ericoid mycorrhizospheres, respectively. Moreover, extracellular enzyme activity varied among mycorrhizosphere types. Specifically, N-targeting leucine aminopeptidase was highest in arbuscular mycorrhizospheres, followed by ericoid and ectomycorrhizal/dual-colonized mycorrhizospheres; β-1,4-glucosidase had the reverse pattern. In addition, enzymatic stoichiometry suggested that extracellular enzyme producers invested more in C-acquisition than in N-acquisition in recent fire scars compared to mature forests. These data extend previous findings that roots and mycorrhizal fungi compete with saprotrophs by showing that the strength of this effect varies by mycorrhizal host. As a result the community composition of mycorrhizal host plants might mediate enzymatic activity in boreal soils. © 2011 Elsevier GmbH.

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