Boreal and temperate forests are generally growth limited by nitrogen. Ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi are adapted to these nutrient poor environments, providing N to plants, which in their turn provide the fungi with carbon, needed for growth. Ectomycorrhizal fungi colonize the roots of the majority of tree species of the boreal and temperate forests.
Over the last fifty-years, anthropogenic emissions, the use of nitrogen fertilizers and other human activities have increased both the availability and mobility of nitrogen over large regions of the earth, particularly the industrial countries. These changes have significant impacts o the nitrogen and carbon cycles, and the activity of organisms in terrestrial ecosystems.
This PhD project aims at investigating how EM fungi in boreal forests are affected by increasing N deposition. The main aim is to investigate how the ability of EM-fungi to degrade organic matter changes with different N deposition regimes. Understanding anthropogenic alteration of the degradability of organic material in forest soils might be of vast importance for understanding contemporary soil C- and N- sequestration- and cycles.
I am collecting EM material from the field as well as conducting lab experiments. I am searching for patterns in (1) EM fungal communities and in (2) functional genes involved in degradation of organic material that are correlated to inorganic N deposition/addition.
Furthermore I investigate how N is stored in EM fungi using MS-GC (amino acid analysis) and polyacrylamide electrophoresis (SDS-page) (protein analysis).