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      Soil fertility relates to fungal-mediated decomposition and organic matter turnover in a temperate mountain forest

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          Summary

          • Fungi are known to exert a significant influence over soil organic matter (SOM) turnover, however understanding of the effects of fungal community structure on SOM dynamics and its consequences for ecosystem fertility is fragmentary.

          • Here we studied soil fungal guilds and SOM decomposition processes along a fertility gradient in a temperate mountain beech forest. High-throughput sequencing was used to investigate fungal communities. Carbon and nitrogen stocks, enzymatic activity and microbial respiration were measured.

          • While ectomycorrhizal fungal abundance was not related to fertility, saprotrophic ascomycetes showed higher relative abundances under more fertile conditions. The activity of oxidising enzymes and respiration rates in mineral soil were related positively to fertility and saprotrophic fungi. In addition, organic layer carbon and nitrogen stocks were lower on the more fertile plots, although tree biomass and litter input were higher. Together, the results indicated a faster SOM turnover at the fertile end of the gradient.

          • We suggest that there is a positive feedback mechanism between SOM turnover and fertility that is mediated by soil fungi to a significant extent. By underlining the importance of fungi for soil fertility and plant growth, these findings furthermore emphasise the dependency of carbon cycling on fungal communities below ground.

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          Most cited references 82

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          AMPLIFICATION AND DIRECT SEQUENCING OF FUNGAL RIBOSOMAL RNA GENES FOR PHYLOGENETICS

           T.J White,  T. Bruns,  S. Lee (1990)
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            VSEARCH: a versatile open source tool for metagenomics

            Background VSEARCH is an open source and free of charge multithreaded 64-bit tool for processing and preparing metagenomics, genomics and population genomics nucleotide sequence data. It is designed as an alternative to the widely used USEARCH tool (Edgar, 2010) for which the source code is not publicly available, algorithm details are only rudimentarily described, and only a memory-confined 32-bit version is freely available for academic use. Methods When searching nucleotide sequences, VSEARCH uses a fast heuristic based on words shared by the query and target sequences in order to quickly identify similar sequences, a similar strategy is probably used in USEARCH. VSEARCH then performs optimal global sequence alignment of the query against potential target sequences, using full dynamic programming instead of the seed-and-extend heuristic used by USEARCH. Pairwise alignments are computed in parallel using vectorisation and multiple threads. Results VSEARCH includes most commands for analysing nucleotide sequences available in USEARCH version 7 and several of those available in USEARCH version 8, including searching (exact or based on global alignment), clustering by similarity (using length pre-sorting, abundance pre-sorting or a user-defined order), chimera detection (reference-based or de novo), dereplication (full length or prefix), pairwise alignment, reverse complementation, sorting, and subsampling. VSEARCH also includes commands for FASTQ file processing, i.e., format detection, filtering, read quality statistics, and merging of paired reads. Furthermore, VSEARCH extends functionality with several new commands and improvements, including shuffling, rereplication, masking of low-complexity sequences with the well-known DUST algorithm, a choice among different similarity definitions, and FASTQ file format conversion. VSEARCH is here shown to be more accurate than USEARCH when performing searching, clustering, chimera detection and subsampling, while on a par with USEARCH for paired-ends read merging. VSEARCH is slower than USEARCH when performing clustering and chimera detection, but significantly faster when performing paired-end reads merging and dereplication. VSEARCH is available at https://github.com/torognes/vsearch under either the BSD 2-clause license or the GNU General Public License version 3.0. Discussion VSEARCH has been shown to be a fast, accurate and full-fledged alternative to USEARCH. A free and open-source versatile tool for sequence analysis is now available to the metagenomics community.
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              Stability of organic carbon in deep soil layers controlled by fresh carbon supply.

              The world's soils store more carbon than is present in biomass and in the atmosphere. Little is known, however, about the factors controlling the stability of soil organic carbon stocks and the response of the soil carbon pool to climate change remains uncertain. We investigated the stability of carbon in deep soil layers in one soil profile by combining physical and chemical characterization of organic carbon, soil incubations and radiocarbon dating. Here we show that the supply of fresh plant-derived carbon to the subsoil (0.6-0.8 m depth) stimulated the microbial mineralization of 2,567 +/- 226-year-old carbon. Our results support the previously suggested idea that in the absence of fresh organic carbon, an essential source of energy for soil microbes, the stability of organic carbon in deep soil layers is maintained. We propose that a lack of supply of fresh carbon may prevent the decomposition of the organic carbon pool in deep soil layers in response to future changes in temperature. Any change in land use and agricultural practice that increases the distribution of fresh carbon along the soil profile could however stimulate the loss of ancient buried carbon.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                9882884
                New Phytol
                New Phytol
                The New phytologist
                0028-646X
                1469-8137
                20 May 2021
                01 July 2021
                20 May 2021
                01 July 2021
                : 231
                : 2
                : 777-790
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Forest Soils and Biogeochemistry, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Zürcherstrasse 111, Birmensdorf 8903, Switzerland
                [2 ]Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, Institute of Forest Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Peter-Jordan Straße 82, Vienna 1190, Austria
                [3 ]Environment Agency Austria, Spittelauer Lände 5, Vienna 1090, Austria
                [4 ]Terrestrial Ecology Group, Institute of Zoology, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Straße 47b, Cologne 50674, Germany
                [5 ]Bioresources Unit, Center for Health & Bioresources, Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH (AIT), Konrad-Lorenz-Straße 24, Tulln 3430, Austria
                [6 ]Symbiocyte, Vorgartenstraße 145, Vienna 1020, Austria
                Author notes
                Author for correspondence: Mathias Mayer mathias_mayer@ 123456gmx.at
                Article
                EMS126083
                10.1111/nph.17421
                7611052
                34013982

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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