Influence of ammonium on formation of mineral-associated organic carbon by an ectomycorrhizal fungus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The interactions between dissolved organic matter (DOM) and mineral particles are critical for the stabilization of soil organic matter (SOM) in terrestrial ecosystems. The processing of DOM by ectomycorrhizal fungi contributes to the formation of mineral-stabilized SOM by two contrasting pathways: the extracellular transformation of DOM (ex vivo pathway) and the secretion of mineral-surface-reactive metabolites (in vivo pathway). In this study, we examined how changes in nitrogen (N) availability affected the formation of mineral-associated carbon (C) from these two pathways. DOM was extracted from forest soils. The processing of this DOM by the ectomycorrhizal fungus Paxillus involutus was examined in laboratory-scale studies with different levels of ammonium. At low levels of ammonium (i.e., under N-limited conditions), the DOM components were slightly oxidized, and fungal C metabolites with iron-reducing activity were secreted. Ammonium amendments decreased the amount of C metabolites, and no additional oxidation of the organic matter was detected. In contrast, the hydrolytic activity and the secretion of N-containing compounds increased, particularly when high levels of ammonium were added. Under these conditions, C, but not N, limited fungal growth. Although the overall production of mineral-associated organic C was not affected by ammonium concentrations, the observed shifts in the activities of the ex vivo and in vivo pathways affected the composition of organic matter adsorbed onto the mineral particles. Such changes will affect the properties of organic matter-mineral associations and, thus, ultimately, the stabilization of SOM.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Microbiology


  • Decomposition, Ectomycorrhizal fungi, Organic matter-mineral interaction, Soil organic matter
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03007-18
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch