Hestrin, R., E. C. Hammer, C. W. Mueller, and J. Lehmann. 2019. Synergies between mycorrhizal fungi and soil microbial communities increase plant nitrogen acquisition. Communications Biology 2:233.

Citable PDF link: https://lter.kbs.msu.edu/pub/3788

Nitrogen availability often restricts primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are ubiquitous symbionts of terrestrial plants and can improve plant nitrogen acquisition, but have a limited ability to access organic nitrogen. Although other soil biota mineralize organic nitrogen into bioavailable forms, they may simultaneously compete for nitrogen, with unknown consequences for plant nutrition. Here, we show that synergies between the mycorrhizal fungus Rhizophagus irregularis and soil microbial communities have a highly non-additive effect on nitrogen acquisition by the model grass Brachypodium distachyon. These multipartite microbial synergies result in a doubling of the nitrogen that mycorrhizal plants acquire from organic matter and a tenfold increase in nitrogen acquisition compared to non-mycorrhizal plants grown in the absence of soil microbial communities. This previously unquantified multipartite relationship may contribute to more than 70 Tg of annually assimilated plant nitrogen, thereby playing a critical role in global nutrient cycling and eco-system function.

DOI: 10.1038/s42003-019-0481-8

Data URL: https://doi.org/10.7298/9d57-5029

Associated Treatment Areas:

Switchgrass Nitrogen/Harvest Experiment - GLBRC

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