Rapid economic development and accelerated urbanization in China has resulted in widespread atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition. One consequence of N deposition is the alteration of mycorrhizal symbioses that are critical for plant resource acquisition (nitrogen, N, phosphorus, P, water). In this study, we characterized the diversity, composition, and functioning of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal communities in an urban-adjacent Pinus elliottii
plantation under ambient N deposition (~24 kg N ha−1
), and following N fertilization (low N, 50 kg N ha−1
; high N, 300 kg N ha−1
). ECM functioning was expressed as the potential activities of extracellular enzymes required for organic N (protease), P (phosphomonoesterase), and recalcitrant polymers (phenol oxidase). Despite high ambient N deposition, ECM community composition shifted under experimental N fertilization, and those changes were linked to disparate levels of soil minerals (P, K) and organic matter (but not N), a decline in acid phosphatase (AP), and an increase in phenol oxidase (PO) potential activities. Based on enzyme stoichiometry, medium-smooth exploration type ECM species invested more in C acquisition (PO) relative to P (AP) following high N fertilization than other exploration types. ECM species with hydrophilic mantles also showed higher enzymatic PO:AP ratios than taxa with hydrophobic mantles. Our findings add to the accumulating evidence that shifts in ECM community composition and taxa specialized in organic C, N, and P degradation could modulate the soil nutrient cycling in forests exposed to chronic elevated N input.
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