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Data from: Mycorrhizal symbiosis pathway and edaphic fertility frame root economics space among tree species

Citation

Yan, Han et al. (2022), Data from: Mycorrhizal symbiosis pathway and edaphic fertility frame root economics space among tree species, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.j0zpc869s

Abstract

The root economics space (RES) is multidimensional and largely shaped by belowground biotic and abiotic influences. However, how root-fungal symbioses and edaphic fertility drive this complexity remains unclear.

Here, we measured absorptive root traits of 112 tree species in temperate and subtropical forests of China, including traits linked to functional differences between arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) hosts.

Our data, from known mycorrhizal tree species, revealed a ‘fungal-symbiosis’ dimension distinguishing AM from ECM species. This divergence likely resulted from the contrasting mycorrhizal evolutionary development of AM versus ECM associations. Increased root tissue cortical space facilitates AM symbiosis, whereas increased root branching favors ECM symbiosis. Irrespective of mycorrhizal type, a ‘root-lifespan’ dimension reflecting aspects of root construction cost and defense was controlled by variation in specific root length and root tissue density, which was fully independent of root nitrogen content. Within this function-based RES, we observed a substantial covariation of axes with soil phosphorus and nitrate levels, highlighting the role played by these two axes in nutrient acquisition and conservation.

Overall, our findings demonstrate the importance of evolved mycorrhizal symbiosis pathway and edaphic fertility in framing the RES, and provide theoretical and mechanistic insights into the complexity of root economics.