Additional info: The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Plant Ecology and Systematics (Closed 2011) (011004000), MEMEG (432112240)
We evaluated the influence of the brown rot fungus Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca on P solubility in the humus layer of a podzolic forest soil. This fungus is known to exude large amounts of oxalic acid that may stimulate weathering of minerals and increase dissolution of humus, which in turn may increase P availability in the soil surrounding the fungus. Humus was inoculated using small wooden pieces colonised by the fungus. The presence of the fungus resulted in elevated concentration of PO4- in the humus solution. In a second experiment birch 4 seedlings grown in the same humus were able to utilise the PO4- mobilised by the fungus to increase their internal P content. The factor 4 determining this increased P uptake and the increased available P might be oxalate produced by fungus. The acid may directly dissolve P or change organic forms of P making it more susceptible to reaction with phosphatases. This fungal effect on P solubility diminished when N was added to the soil in the form of a slow release N fertilizer (methyl urea), or when a soil with a higher soil N concentration was used. We found a strong correlation between NH4+ concentration and total organic carbon in the soil solution at high NH4+ concentrations, suggesting the dissolution of humus as a result of the high NH4+ content in the solution. This study demonstrates that the wood-decaying fungus H. aurantiaca influences nutrient turnover in forest soil, and thereby nutrient uptake by forest trees. An intensified harvest of forest products such as whole tree harvesting may decrease the active biomass of the wood decomposers and may thereby change the availability of P and the leaching of N.