Discrete taxa of saprotrophic fungi respire different ages of carbon from Antarctic soils

Different organic compounds have distinct residence times in soil and are degraded by specific taxa of saprotrophic fungi. It hence follows that specific fungal taxa should respire carbon of different ages from these compounds to the atmosphere. Here, we test whether this is the case by radiocarbon (14C) dating CO2 evolved from two gamma radiation-sterilised maritime Antarctic soils inoculated with pure single cultures of four fungi. We show that a member of the Helotiales, which accounted for 41–56% of all fungal sequences in the two soils, respired soil carbon that was aged up to 1,200 years BP and which was 350–400 years older than that respired by the other three taxa. Analyses of the enzyme profile of the Helotialean fungus and the fluxes and δ13C values of CO2 that it evolved suggested that its release of old carbon from soil was associated with efficient cellulose decomposition. Our findings support suggestions that increases in the ages of carbon respired from warmed soils may be caused by changes to the abundances or activities of discrete taxa of microbes, and indicate that the loss of old carbon from soils is driven by specific fungal taxa.


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Authors: Newsham, Kevin K. ORCIDORCID record for Kevin K. Newsham, Garnett, Mark H., Robinson, Clare H., Cox, Filipa

On this site: Kevin Newsham
18 May, 2018
Scientific Reports / 8
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