Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization consistently favor pathogenic over mutualistic fungi in grassland soils

Ylva Lekberg, Carlos A. Arnillas, Elizabeth T. Borer, Lorinda S. Bullington, Noah Fierer, Peter G. Kennedy, Jonathan W. Leff, Angela D. Luis, Eric W. Seabloom, Jeremiah A. Henning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ecosystems across the globe receive elevated inputs of nutrients, but the consequences of this for soil fungal guilds that mediate key ecosystem functions remain unclear. We find that nitrogen and phosphorus addition to 25 grasslands distributed across four continents promotes the relative abundance of fungal pathogens, suppresses mutualists, but does not affect saprotrophs. Structural equation models suggest that responses are often indirect and primarily mediated by nutrient-induced shifts in plant communities. Nutrient addition also reduces co-occurrences within and among fungal guilds, which could have important consequences for belowground interactions. Focusing only on plots that received no nutrient addition, soil properties influence pathogen abundance globally, whereas plant community characteristics influence mutualists, and climate influence saprotrophs. We show consistent, guild-level responses that enhance our ability to predict shifts in soil function related to anthropogenic eutrophication, which can have longer-term consequences for plant communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3484
JournalNature Communications
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

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