German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)


Mycorrhizae in Tree Diversity Effects on Ecosystem Functioning

Mycorrhizae play a critical role in plant nutrient and water uptake from soil and, consequently, in the plants' competitive capabilities as well as in nutrient cycling of the whole system. The positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning can be mainly attributed to the complementary use of soil resources. The type of mycorrhizal association may, therefore, affect complementarity among plant species. In MyDiv, we test how biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships differ among tree communities of different mycorrhizal types. We expect tree communities of high species richness and with both mycorrhizal types to have the strongest biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship. Furthermore, mycorrhizal fungi serve as an important food source for the belowground fauna. However, the roles of the two major mycorrhizal types within the soil food web are still poorly understood.

The tree diversity experiment MyDiv aims at integrating the mycorrhizal type, a crucial plant functional trait, in tree species diversity gradients. The experiment involves ten native angiosperm tree species that were planted in monocultures, 2-species and 4-species mixtures. At each of the tree diversity levels, tree communities with only ectomycorrhiza, only arbuscular mycorrhiza or mixtures of both were established.

Research focus

  • Indispensible mycorrhizae: Importance of mycorrhizal communities for soil nutrient cycling and ecosystem functions
  • Mycorrhizae – team players or lone wolves? Functional diversity in forests – do trees of different mycorrhizal types act complementarily in the above- and belowground system?
  • Who eats mycorrhizae? Mycorrhizae as part of the soil food web
  • How to increase the harvest? Productivity of functionally diverse forests - implications for forestry?

Key data

  • Location: Bad Lauchstädt, UFZ Experimental station
  • Platform type: Experimental outdoor platform, field studies, tree diversity experiment

Research groups involved:

  • Leipzig University: WG Wirth
  • FSU Jena: WG van Dam
  • MLU Halle: WG Bruelheide
  • UFZ: WG Buscot, WG Herrmann, WG Schädler, WG Wubet
  • University of Göttingen: WG Meier
  • University of Konstanz: WG Simon
  • University of Tübingen: WG Oelmann
  • TreeDivNet network groups


Dr. Olga Ferlian

Prof. Dr. Nico Eisenhauer


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