Roots and Associated Fungi Drive Long-Term Carbon Sequestration in Boreal Forest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Boreal forest soils function as a terrestrial net sink in the global carbon cycle. The prevailing dogma has focused on aboveground plant litter as a principal source of soil organic matter. Using C-14 bomb-carbon modeling, we show that 50 to 70% of stored carbon in a chronosequence of boreal forested islands derives from roots and root-associated microorganisms. Fungal biomarkers indicate impaired degradation and preservation of fungal residues in late successional forests. Furthermore, 454 pyrosequencing of molecular barcodes, in conjunction with stable isotope analyses, highlights root-associated fungi as important regulators of ecosystem carbon dynamics. Our results suggest an alternative mechanism for the accumulation of organic matter in boreal forests during succession in the long-term absence of disturbance.


  • K. E. Clemmensen
  • Adam Bahr
  • O. Ovaskainen
  • A. Dahlberg
  • A. Ekblad
  • Håkan Wallander
  • J. Stenlid
  • R. D. Finlay
  • D. A. Wardle
  • B. D. Lindahl
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1615-1618
Issue number6127
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch