Little information is known on what the magnitude of nitrogen (N) processed by ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal species in the field. In a common garden experiment performed in a northern California oak woodland, we investigated transfer of nitrogen applied as (NH4)-N-15 or (NO3)-N-15 from leaves to ectomycorrhizal roots of three oak species, Quercus agrifolia, Q. douglasii, and Q. garryana. Oak seedlings formed five common ectomycorrhizal morphotypes on root tips. Mycorrhizal tips were more enriched in N-15 than fine roots. N transfer was greater to the less common morphotypes than to the more common types. N-15 transfer from leaves to roots was greater when (NO3-)-N-15, not (NH4+)-N-15, was supplied. N-15 transfer to roots was greater in seedlings of Q. agrifolia than in Q. douglasii and Q. garryana. Differential N transfer to ectomycorrhizal root tips suggests that ectomycorrhizal morphotypes can influence flows of N from leaves to roots and that mycorrhizal diversity may influence the total N requirement of plants.
He, X., Horwath, W. R., Zasoski, R. J., Aanderud, Z., & Bledsoe, C. S. (2007). Nitrogen sink strength of ectomycorrhizal morphotypes of Quercus douglasii, Q. garryana, and Q. agrifolia seedlings grown in a northern California oak woodland. Mycorrhiza, 18(1), 33-41. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00572-007-0150-5