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Nutrient trade-offs mediated by ectomycorrhizal strategies in plants: Evidence from an Abies species in subalpine forests
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  • Lulu Chen,
  • Chao Jiang,
  • Xiangping Wang,
  • Qiuhong Feng,
  • Xingliang Liu,
  • Zuoxin Tang,
  • Osbert Sun
Lulu Chen
Beijing Forestry University
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Chao Jiang
Beijing Forestry University
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Xiangping Wang
Beijing Forestry University
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Qiuhong Feng
Sichuan Academy of Forestry
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Xingliang Liu
Sichuan Academy of Forestry
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Zuoxin Tang
Kunming University
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Osbert Sun
Beijing Forestry University
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Abstract

1.Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) roots are evolutionary strategies of plants for effective nutrient uptake under varying abiotic conditions. Formation and morphological differentiations of ECM roots are important strategies in foraging environments. However, little is known on how such strategies mediate the nutrients of the below- and aboveground tissues and the balances among nutrient elements across environmental gradients. 2.We studied the function of ECM symbiosis in Abies faxoniana across its distributional range in Southwest China. The effects of differential ECM strategies, i.e. the contact exploration type, the short-distance exploration type, and the medium-distance exploration type, and root tips functional traits, etc., on root and foliar N and P and N:P ratio were examined across natural environmental gradients. 3.The ECM symbionts preferentially facilitated P uptake in A. faxoniana under both N and P limitations. The uptakes of N and P were primarily promoted by the effectiveness of ECM roots, e.g. ECM root tips per unit biomass, superficial area of ECM root tips, the ratio of living and dead root tips, but negatively related to the ECM proliferations and morphological differentiations. Generally, plant N and P nutrients were always promoted by the contact exploration type, while negatively affected by the short-distance exploration type in A. faxoniana. Root and foliar N and P nutrients were expected to be affected by the medium-distance exploration type in dynamics. Especially, root P limitation could be relieved when the frequency of medium-distance exploration type up to c.15%, whilst root N limitation was strengthen when the frequency of medium-distance exploration type over 20%. 4.We suggest that both below- and above-ground nutritional traits of host tree species could be strongly affected by ECM symbiosis in natural environments. The ECM strategies responding to environmental conditions significantly affect the plant nutrient uptakes and trade-offs. ECM soil exploration types are the great supplementary mechanisms for plant nutrient uptake.

Peer review status:Published

02 Nov 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
03 Nov 2020Submission Checks Completed
03 Nov 2020Assigned to Editor
11 Nov 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
11 Jan 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
29 Jan 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
09 Feb 20211st Revision Received
10 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
10 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
10 Feb 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Accept
16 Mar 2021Published in Ecology and Evolution. 10.1002/ece3.7417