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Expanding forests in alpine regions: space-for-time indicates a corresponding shift in belowground fungal communities
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  • Lea-Rebekka Tonjer,
  • Ella Thoen,
  • Luis Morgado,
  • Synnøve Smebye Botnen,
  • Sunil Mundra,
  • Line Nybakken,
  • Anders Bryn,
  • Håvard Kauserud
Lea-Rebekka Tonjer
University in Oslo
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Ella Thoen
University in Oslo
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Luis Morgado
University in Oslo
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Synnøve Smebye Botnen
Universitetet i Oslo Det Matematisk-naturvitenskapelige Fakultet
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Sunil Mundra
University in Oslo
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Line Nybakken
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
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Anders Bryn
University in Oslo
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Håvard Kauserud
University in Oslo
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Abstract

Climate change causes upward shift of forest lines worldwide, with consequences on soil biota and carbon (C). Using a space-for-time approach, we analyse compositional changes in the soil biota across the forest line ecotone, an important transition zone between different ecosystems. We collected soil samples along transects stretching from subalpine mountain birch forests to low-alpine vegetation. Soil fungi and micro-eukaryotes were surveyed using DNA metabarcoding of the 18S and ITS2 markers, while ergosterol was used to quantify fungal biomass. We observed a strong shift in the soil biota across the forest line ecotone: Below the forest line, there were higher proportions of basidiomycetes and mucoromycetes, including ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi. Above, we observed relatively more root-associated ascomycetes, including Archaeorhizomycetes, ericoid mycorrhizal fungi and dark septate endophytes. Ergosterol and percentage C content in soil strongly and positively correlated with the abundance of root-associated ascomycetes. The predominance of ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi below the forest line likely promote high C turnover, while root-associated ascomycetes above the forest line may enhance C sequestration. With further rise in forest lines, there will be a corresponding shift in the belowground biota linked to C sequestration processes.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

14 Dec 2020Submitted to Molecular Ecology
15 Dec 2020Submission Checks Completed
15 Dec 2020Assigned to Editor
14 Jan 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
19 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
20 May 20211st Revision Received
20 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 Jun 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor