About the Project
This exciting and timely project focusses on the interplay between the availability of key plant nutrients, ectomycorrhizal fungal community composition, and forest carbon (C) -cycling.
Deposition of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) to forests is an important factor driving the community composition and functioning of ectomycorrhizal fungi. One wider effect of increasing soil N availability is that other essential plant nutrients such as phosphorus (P) can become limiting. Ectomycorrhizal fungi play a key role in the acquisition of both N and P, but how the relative levels of these two nutrients drive ectomycorrhizal fungal community composition and functioning is not well understood. In this project, we will use a series of field and lab experiments to study 1) the capacity of different ECM fungal species to take up different organic and inorganic P sources 2) how long-term fertilisation of N and N+P has altered the ectomycorrhizal communities of a Swedish scots pine stand 3) how N and P availability interact to alter C-allocation from the plant to its fungal partner and 4) how association with different species of ECM fungi affect the point at which the plant becomes P limited across a gradient of N availability.
Based in the Soil and Ecosystem Ecology lab in Manchester, this project will benefit from state-of-the art facilities and equipment, enabling the application of cutting-edge techniques to tackle the questions outlined above. This will include access to a large collection of ectomycorrhizal fungi, new plant growth facilities, in-house soil analysis and molecular facilities, and expertise and infrastructure to support stable isotope tracing to quantify resource exchange of N, P and C between the plant and fungal partners.
We expect the programme to commence in September 2021.
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