Title: Climatic controls of decomposition drive the global biogeography of forest tree symbioses
Authors: STEIDINGER BRIANCROWTHER THOMASLIANG JINGJINGVAN NULAND MICHAELWERNER GIJSBERTREICH PETERNABUURS GERT-JANDE-MIGUEL SERGIOZHOU MOPICARD NICOLASHERAULT BRUNOZHAO XIUHAIZHANG CHUNYUROUTH DAVITABILE VALERIOPEAY KABIR
Citation: NATURE vol. 569 p. 404-408
Publisher: NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC115868
ISSN: 0028-0836 (online)
URI: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1128-0
http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC115868
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1128-0
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The identity of the dominant microbial symbionts in a forest determines the ability of trees to access limiting nutrients from atmospheric or soil pools1,2, sequester carbon3,4 and withstand the impacts of climate change1-6. Characterizing the global distribution of symbioses, and identifying the factors that control it, are thus integral to understanding present and future forest ecosystem functioning. Here we generate the first spatially explicit global map of forest symbiotic status using a database of over 1.1 million forest inventory plots with over 28,000 tree species. Our analyses indicate that climatic variables, and in particular climatically-controlled variation in decomposition rate, are the primary drivers of the global distribution of major symbioses. We estimate that ectomycorrhizal (EM) trees, which represent only 2% of all plant species7, constitute approximately 60% of tree stems on Earth. EM symbiosis dominates forests where seasonally cold and dry climates inhibit decomposition, and are the predominant symbiosis at high latitudes and elevation. In contrast, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) trees dominate aseasonally warm tropical forests and occur with EM trees in temperate biomes where seasonally warm-and-wet climates enhance decomposition. Continental transitions between AM and EM dominated forests occur relatively abruptly along climate driven decomposition gradients, which is likely caused by positive plant-microbe feedbacks. Symbiotic N-fixers, which are insensitive to climatic controls on decomposition compared with mycorrhizal fungi, are most abundant in arid biomes with alkaline soils and high maximum temperatures. The climatically driven global symbiosis gradient we document represents the first spatially-explicit, quantitative understanding of microbial symbioses at the global scale and demonstrates the critical role of microbial mutualisms in shaping the distribution of plant species.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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