May 1, 2016

Higher fungal diversity in dead wood is correlated with lower CO2 emissions in a natural forest

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Yahan YangDouglas W. Yu


Wood decomposition releases almost as much CO2 to the atmosphere as does fossil-fuel combustion, so the factors regulating wood decomposition can affect global carbon cycling. We used metabarcoding to estimate the fungal species diversities of naturally colonized decomposing wood in subtropical China and, for the first time, compared them to concurrent measures of CO2 emissions. Wood hosting more diverse fungal communities emitted less CO2, with Shannon diversity explaining 26 to 44% of emissions variation. Community analysis supports a 'pure diversity' effect of fungi on decomposition rates and thus suggests that interference competition is an underlying mechanism. Our results are consistent with the theory of interference competition and with the results of published experiments using low-diversity, laboratory-inoculated wood, and we extend those results to a high-diversity, natural system for the first time. High levels of saprotrophic fungal biodiversity might be providing globally important ecosystem services by maintaining dead-wood habitats and by slowing atmospheric contribution of CO2 from the world's stock of decomposing wood.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Woods Syndrome
5-(Carboxyamino)imidazole Ribonucleotide Mutase Activity
Carbon Dioxide

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