Mycorrhizal fungi improve growth of Juniperus communis but only at sufficiently high soil element concentrations

E. R. Veldhuis*, J. Skinkis, K. Verheyen, A. J.P. Smolders, C. Smit

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

2 Citaten (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


High nitrogen (N) deposition rates can cause soil eutrophication and acidification causing harmful effects to many plant species. One species that seems to be affected is Juniperus communis, populations of which are declining in Western Europe, due to a lack of regeneration. This is primarily caused by limited seedling recruitment and low viable seed production; factors that have both been attributed to increased levels of N deposition. J. communis sapling performance could be dependant on mycorrhizal fungi (MF) in their roots, but how – and under what conditions – MF contribute to the performance of J. communis has not been studied before. Here we experimentally tested the effect of MF on J. communis cuttings along an acidity gradient in situ. To manipulate the interaction with MF, we used ingrowth cores, effectively allowing for root-MF interactions or strongly reducing these. After six months we measured growth and needle nutrient concentrations of cuttings with a normal or reduced mycelial network. MF had a positive effect on absolute growth of our cuttings. However, this effect was weakened as soil Mg2+, Ca2+ and Na+ concentrations declined. Soil pH itself was not directly associated with the effect of MF on J. communis. MF also decreased needle phosphorous concentrations, most likely because the increased plant growth by MF diluted its concentration in the plants. We conclude that MF stimulate the performance of J. communis, but that leaching of cations, accelerated by N deposition, negatively affects their mutualism and thereby the performance of J. communis saplings. This highlights the potential positive role of MF in effective conservation and restoration efforts of J. communis habitats in Western Europe and the importance of prioritising the reduction of ongoing eutrophication and acidification.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)78-85
Aantal pagina's8
TijdschriftBasic and Applied Ecology
StatusPublished - dec.-2022

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