The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Default user image.

Lena Ström


Default user image.

Site-dependent N uptake from N-form mixtures by arctic plants, soil microbes and ectomycorrhizal fungi


  • Karina Engelbrecht Clemmensen
  • Pernille Lærkedal Sørensen
  • Anders Michelsen
  • Sven Jonasson
  • Lena Ström

Summary, in English

Abstract in Undetermined
Soil microbes constitute an important control on nitrogen (N) turnover and retention in arctic ecosystems where N availability is the main constraint on primary production. Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbioses may facilitate plant competition for the specific N pools available in various arctic ecosystems. We report here our study on the N uptake patterns of coexisting plants and microbes at two tundra sites with contrasting dominance of the circumpolar ECM shrub Betula nana. We added equimolar mixtures of glycine-N, NH4+-N and NO3--N, with one N form labelled with N-15 at a time, and in the case of glycine, also labelled with C-13, either directly to the soil or to ECM fungal ingrowth bags. After 2 days, the vegetation contained 5.6, 7.7 and 9.1% (heath tundra) and 7.1, 14.3 and 12.5% (shrub tundra) of the glycine-, NH4+- and NO3--N-15, respectively, recovered in the plant-soil system, and the major part of N-15 in the soil was immobilized by microbes (chloroform fumigation-extraction). In the subsequent 24 days, microbial N turnover transferred about half of the immobilized N-15 to the non-extractable soil organic N pool, demonstrating that soil microbes played a major role in N turnover and retention in both tundra types. The ECM mycelial communities at the two tundras differed in N-form preferences, with a higher contribution of glycine to total N uptake at the heath tundra; however, the ECM mycelial communities at both sites strongly discriminated against NO3-. Betula nana did not directly reflect ECM mycelial N uptake, and we conclude that N uptake by ECM plants is modulated by the N uptake patterns of both fungal and plant components of the symbiosis and by competitive interactions in the soil. Our field study furthermore showed that intact free amino acids are potentially important N sources for arctic ECM fungi and plants as well as for soil microorganisms.


  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science

Publishing year












Document type

Journal article




  • Physical Geography




  • ISSN: 1432-1939