Fungal community responses to past and future atmospheric CO2 differ by soil type
Authors: Procter AC, JC Ellis, PA Fay, HW Polley, RB Jackson
Soils sequester and release substantial atmospheric carbon, but the contribution of fungal communities to soil carbon balance under rising CO2 is not well understood. Soil properties likely mediate these fungal responses but are rarely explored in CO2 experiments. We studied soil fungal communities in a grassland ecosystem exposed to a preindustrial-to-future CO2 gradient (250 to 500 ppm) in a black clay soil and a sandy loam soil. Sanger sequencing and pyrosequencing of the rRNA gene cluster revealed that fungal community composition and its response to CO2 differed significantly between soils. Fungal species richness and relative abundance of Chytridiomycota (chytrids) increased linearly with CO2 in the black clay (P<0.04, R2>0.7), whereas the relative abundance of Glomeromycota (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) increased linearly with elevated CO2 in the sandy loam (P=0.02, R2=0.63). Across both soils, decomposition rate was positively correlated with chytrid relative abundance (r=0.57) and, in the black clay soil, fungal species richness. Decomposition rate was more strongly correlated with microbial biomass (r=0.88) than with fungal variables. Increased labile carbon availability with elevated CO2 may explain the greater fungal species richness and Chytridiomycota abundance in the black clay soil, whereas increased phosphorus limitation may explain the increase in Glomeromycota at elevated CO2 in the sandy loam. Our results demonstrate that soil type plays a key role in soil fungal responses to rising atmospheric CO2.