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Arbuscular mycorrhiza and soil nitrogen cycling

Veresoglou, Stavros D., Chen, Baodong, Rillig, Matthias C.
Soil biology & biochemistry 2012 v.46 pp. 53-62
biogeochemical cycles, ecosystems, experimental design, models, mycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen, nutrient uptake, nutrients, plant nutrition, plant response, primary productivity, soil, vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae
Nitrogen is a major nutrient that frequently limits primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore, the physiological responses of plants to soil nitrogen (N) availability have been extensively investigated, and the study of the soil N-cycle has become an important component of ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry. The bulk of the literature in these areas has, however, overlooked the fact that most plants form mycorrhizal associations, and that nutrient uptake is therefore mediated by mycorrhizal fungi. It is well established that ecto- and ericoid mycorrhizas influence N nutrition of plants, but roles of arbuscular mycorrhizas in N nutrition are less well established; perhaps even more importantly, current conceptual models ignore possible influences of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi on N-cycling processes. We review evidence for the interaction between the AM symbiosis with microbes and processes involved in soil N-cycling. We show that to date investigations have rather poorly addressed such interactions and discuss possible reasons for this. We outline mechanisms that could potentially operate with regards to AM fungal – N-cycling interactions, discuss experimental designs aimed at studying these, and conclude by pointing out priorities for future research.