Contrasting dynamics and trait controls in first-order root compared with leaf litter decomposition

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Sun , T , Hobbie , S E , Berg , B , Zhang , H , Wang , Q , Wang , Z & Hättenschwiler , S 2018 , ' Contrasting dynamics and trait controls in first-order root compared with leaf litter decomposition ' , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , vol. 115 , no. 41 , pp. 10392-10397 . https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1716595115

Title: Contrasting dynamics and trait controls in first-order root compared with leaf litter decomposition
Author: Sun, Tao; Hobbie, Sarah E.; Berg, Björn; Zhang, Hongguang; Wang, Qingkui; Wang, Zhengwen; Hättenschwiler, Stephan
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Sciences
Date: 2018-10-09
Language: eng
Number of pages: 6
Belongs to series: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
ISSN: 0027-8424
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/310213
Abstract: Decomposition is a key component of the global carbon (C) cycle, yet current ecosystem C models do not adequately represent the contributions of plant roots and their mycorrhizae to this process. The understanding of decomposition dynamics and their control by traits is particularly limited for the most distal first-order roots. Here we followed decomposition of first-order roots and leaf litter from 35 woody plant species differing in mycorrhizal type over 6 years in a Chinese temperate forest. First-order roots decomposed more slowly (k = 0.11 +/- 0.01 years(-1)) than did leaf litter (0.35 +/- 0.02 years(-1)), losing only 35% of initial mass on average after 6 years of exposure in the field. In contrast to leaf litter, nonlignin root C chemistry (nonstructural carbohydrates, polyphenols) accounted for 82% of the large interspecific variation in first-order root decomposition. Leaf litter from ectomycorrhizal (EM) species decomposed more slowly than that from arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) species, whereas first-order roots of EM species switched, after 2 years, from having slower to faster decomposition compared with those from AM species. The fundamentally different dynamics and control mechanisms of first-order root decomposition compared with those of leaf litter challenge current ecosystem C models, the recently suggested dichotomy between EM and AM plants, and the idea that common traits can predict decomposition across roots and leaves. Aspects of C chemistry unrelated to lignin or nitrogen, and not presently considered in decomposition models, controlled first-order root decomposition; thus, current paradigms of ecosystem C dynamics and model parameterization require revision.
Subject: long-term decomposition
mycorrhizal fungi
root tips
plant-soil interactions
trait coordination
SOIL ORGANIC-MATTER
PLANT LITTER
FUNCTIONAL TRAITS
ECTOMYCORRHIZAL COLONIZATION
TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS
ECONOMICS SPECTRUM
CHINESE TEMPERATE
FOREST SOILS
FINE ROOTS
CARBON
4112 Forestry
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