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Ectomycorrhizal utilization of different phosphorus sources in a glacier forefront in the Italian Alps

  • Michele D’Amico
  • Juan Pablo Almeida
  • Sonia Barbieri
  • Fabio Castelli
  • Elena Sgura
  • Giulia Sineo
  • Maria Martin
  • Eleonora Bonifacio
  • Håkan Wallander
  • Luisella Celi
Publishing year: 2020-01
Language: English
Pages: 81-95
Publication/Series: Plant and Soil
Volume: 446
Issue: 1-2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Aims: In deglaciated surfaces, lithology influences habitat development. In particular, serpentinite inhibits soil evolution and plant colonization because of insufficient phosphorus (P) content, among other stressful properties. In nutrient-poor environments, ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) play a key role exploring the soil for P beyond the rhizosphere. In this study, we followed the role of EMF in accessing inorganic and organic P along two proglacial soil chronosequences in the Alps (NW Italy), respectively characterized by pure serpentinite till and serpentinite mixed with 10% of gneiss, and colonized by European Larch.

Methods: The access to inorganic and organic P forms by EMF was studied using specific mesh-bags for fungal hyphae entry, filled with quartz sand and inorganic phosphate (Pi) or myo-inositolhexaphosphate (InsP6) adsorbed onto goethite. They were incubated over 13 months at the organic/mineral horizon interface. After harvesting, EMF colonization via ergosterol analysis and the amount of P and Fe removed from mesh bags were measured.

Results: Ergosterol increased along the two chronosequences with slightly greater values on serpentinite and in Pi-containing bags. Up to 65% of Pi was removed from mesh-bags, only partly accompanied by a parallel release of Fe. The amount of InsP6 released was instead less than 45% and mostly removed with goethite.

Conclusions: The results suggest that, in extremely P-poor environments, EMF are able to release both inorganic and organic P forms from highly stabilized associations.


  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry
  • Ectomycorrhizae
  • Mesh bags experiment
  • Phosphorus uptake
  • Primary succession
  • Serpentinite soils
  • Soil chronosequence


  • ISSN: 0032-079X
Håkan Wallander
E-mail: hakan [dot] wallander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



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