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Soil disturbance alters plant community composition and decreases mycorrhizal carbon allocation in a sandy grassland.

  • Tim Krone Schnoor
  • Linda-Maria Mårtensson
  • Pål Axel Olsson
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 809-819
Publication/Series: Oecologia
Volume: 167
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

We have studied how disturbance by ploughing and rotavation affects the carbon (C) flow to arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in a dry, semi-natural grassland. AM fungal biomass was estimated using the indicator neutral lipid fatty acid (NLFA) 16:1ω5, and saprotrophic fungal biomass using NLFA 18:2ω6,9. We labeled vegetation plots with (13)CO(2) and studied the C flow to the signature fatty acids as well as uptake and allocation in plants. We found that AM fungal biomass in roots and soil decreased with disturbance, while saprotrophic fungal biomass in soil was not influenced by disturbance. Rotavation decreased the (13)C enrichment in NLFA 16:1ω5 in soil, but (13)C enrichment in the AM fungal indicator NLFA 16:1ω5 in roots or soil was not influenced by any other disturbance. In roots, (13)C enrichment was consistently higher in NLFA 16:1ω5 than in crude root material. Grasses (mainly Festuca brevipila) decreased as a result of disturbance, while non-mycorrhizal annual forbs increased. This decreases the potential for mycorrhizal C sequestration and may have been the main reason for the reduced mycorrhizal C allocation found in disturbed plots. Disturbance decreased the soil ammonium content but did not change the pH, nitrate or phosphate availability. The overall effect of disturbance on C allocation was that more of the C in AM fungal mycelium was directed to the external phase. Furthermore, the functional identity of the plants seemed to play a minor role in the C cycle as no differences were seen between different groups, although annuals contained less AM fungi than the other groups.


  • Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Carbon cycling
  • Fatty acid
  • Grassland
  • Soil fungi
  • Stable isotope


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 1432-1939
Pål Axel Olsson
E-mail: pal_axel [dot] olsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 42 47



Research group

Plant Biology



Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

Theodor Kindeberg

PhD students, assistant supervisor