Vertical and seasonal dynamics of fungal communities in boreal Scots pine forest soil

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Fungal communities are important for carbon (C) transformations in boreal forests that are one of the largest C pools in terrestrial ecosystems, warranting thus further investigation of fungal community dynamics in time and space. We investigated fungal diversity and community composition seasonally and across defined soil horizons in boreal Scots pine forest in Finland using 454 pyrosequencing. We collected a total of 120 samples from five vertical soil horizons monthly from March to October; in March, under snow. Boreal forest soil generally harbored diverse fungal communities across soil horizons. The communities shifted drastically and rapidly over time. In late winter, saprotrophs dominated the community and were replaced by ectomycorrhizal fungi during the growing season. Our studies are among the first to dissect the spatial and temporal dynamics in boreal forest ecosystems and highlights the ecological importance of vertically distinct communities and their rapid seasonal dynamics. As climate change is predicted to result in warmer and longer snow-free winter seasons, as well as increase the rooting depth of trees in boreal forest, the seasonal and vertical distribution of fungal communities may change. These changes are likely to affect the organic matter decomposition by the soil-inhabiting fungi and thus alter organic C pools.

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