Tight coupling of fungal community composition with soil quality in a Chinese fir plantation chronosequence

Predicting changes in carbon and nutrient cycles in plantations requires a mechanistic understanding of the effects of stand age on soil quality and microbial communities. Here, we evaluated soil quality by using an integrated soil quality index (SQI) and traced the parallel shifts in fungal community composition using high-throughput sequencing in a chronosequence of Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) plantations (stand age of 3, 16, 25, 32, >80 years). Soil properties showed pronounced changes with stand age in the topsoil. Soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN) and available phosphorus (AP) were 2.1, 1.9 and 2.2 times higher, respectively, in the oldest stands than in the youngest stands. SQI of the top 5 cm increased logarithmically with stand age. Mycorrhizal fungi initially increased in younger stands, but then they were gradually replaced by saprotrophs in older stands due to larger litterfall. Strong positive correlations between saprotrophic fungi and key soil quality indicators, such as TN, AP and NH4+, confirmed that abundance of decomposers is tightly linked with higher soil quality. Mycorrhizal orders Thelephorales, Sebacinales and Russulales increased in abundance and raised the activity of acid phosphatase to mobilise limiting phosphorus from organic matter. Consequently, mycorrhizal fungi are especially relevant in younger stands to acquire nutrients to sustain tree productivity. In developed stands, however, saprotrophic fungi are crucial in recycling nutrients from the litter. Collectively, the increase of topsoil quality during the life cycle of Chinese fir plantations is closely linked with the observed transition of fungal communities from mycorrhizae to saprotrophs. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Chen L.1, 2, 3 , Xiang W.1, 2, 3 , Ouyang S.1, 2, 3 , Wu H.1, 2 , Xia Q.1, 2 , Ma J.1, 2 , Zeng Y.1, 2 , Lei P.1, 2, 3 , Xiao W.4 , Li S. 6 , Kuzyakov Y. 1, 7, 8
John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • 1 Faculty of Life Science and Technology, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha, China
  • 2 Huitong National Station for Scientific Observation and Research of Chinese Fir Plantation Ecosystems in Hunan Province, Huitong, China
  • 3 National Engineering Laboratory for Applied Technology of Forestry & Ecology in South China, Changsha, China
  • 4 Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Environment, State Forestry Administration
  • 5 Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing, China
  • 6 Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 7 Department of Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems, Department of Agricultural Soil Science, University of Goettingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 8 Agro-Technological Institute, RUDN University, Moscow, Russian Federation
Cunninghamia lanceolata; mycorrhizal fungi; saprotrophic fungi; soil quality index; stand age
Date of creation
Date of change
Short link

Other records