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Roots and Associated Fungi Drive Long-Term Carbon Sequestration in Boreal Forest

  • K. E. Clemmensen
  • Adam Bahr
  • O. Ovaskainen
  • A. Dahlberg
  • A. Ekblad
  • Håkan Wallander
  • J. Stenlid
  • R. D. Finlay
  • D. A. Wardle
  • B. D. Lindahl
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 1615-1618
Publication/Series: Science
Volume: 339
Issue: 6127
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Abstract english

Boreal forest soils function as a terrestrial net sink in the global carbon cycle. The prevailing dogma has focused on aboveground plant litter as a principal source of soil organic matter. Using C-14 bomb-carbon modeling, we show that 50 to 70% of stored carbon in a chronosequence of boreal forested islands derives from roots and root-associated microorganisms. Fungal biomarkers indicate impaired degradation and preservation of fungal residues in late successional forests. Furthermore, 454 pyrosequencing of molecular barcodes, in conjunction with stable isotope analyses, highlights root-associated fungi as important regulators of ecosystem carbon dynamics. Our results suggest an alternative mechanism for the accumulation of organic matter in boreal forests during succession in the long-term absence of disturbance.


  • Biological Sciences


  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi and nutrient mobilisation
  • Microbial Ecology
  • ISSN: 1095-9203
Håkan Wallander
E-mail: hakan [dot] wallander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



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