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Ectomycorrhizal fungi - potential organic matter decomposers, yet not saprotrophs

  • Bjorn D. Lindahl
  • Anders Tunlid
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 1443-1447
Publication/Series: New Phytologist
Volume: 205
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article review
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Although hypothesized for many years, the involvement of ectomycorrhizal fungi in decomposition of soil organic matter remains controversial and has not yet been fully acknowledged as an important factor in the regulation of soil carbon (C) storage. Here, we review recent findings, which support the view that some ectomycorrhizal fungi have the capacity to oxidize organic matter, either by brown-rot' Fenton chemistry or using white-rot' peroxidases. We propose that ectomycorrhizal fungi benefit from organic matter decomposition primarily through increased nitrogen mobilization rather than through release of metabolic C and question the view that ectomycorrhizal fungi may act as facultative saprotrophs. Finally, we discuss how mycorrhizal decomposition may influence organic matter storage in soils and mediate responses of ecosystem C sequestration to environmental changes.


  • Biological Sciences
  • carbon sequestration
  • decomposition
  • ectomycorrhiza
  • nitrogen cycling
  • organic matter oxidation
  • priming effect


  • Mobilization of organic nitrogen by ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • Microbial Ecology
  • ISSN: 1469-8137
Anders Tunlid
E-mail: anders [dot] tunlid [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

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