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Contrasting dynamics and trait controls in first-order root compared with leaf litter decomposition
Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Management, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China; Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, USA.
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, USA.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences, Biology. Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Laoshan Forest Station, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China.
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2018 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 115, no 41, p. 10392-10397Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 115, no 41, p. 10392-10397
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Other Natural Sciences
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URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-28274DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1716595115ISI: 000446764200065PubMedID: 30254167Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85054777294OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-28274DiVA, id: diva2:1255135
Note

Funding agencies:

State Key Program of China Grant Number 2016YFD0300904;  2016YFA0600800

Natural Science Foundation of China Grant Number 31500361;  31830015

Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences  Grant Number QYZDB-SSW-DQC002

Available from: 2018-10-11 Created: 2018-10-11 Last updated: 2018-11-28Bibliographically approved

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