Hoffland,E., Giesler,R., Jongmans,A.G. and van Breemen,N.(2003): Feldspar tunneling by fungi along natural productivity gradients. Ecosystems, 6, 739-746.


 Recently it was hypothesized that ectomycorrhizas hyphae are involved in mineral tunneling. We evaluated the role of ectomycorrhizas in mineral weathering and the ecosystem influx of basic cations by correlating mineral tunnel density to ectomycorrhizas density in two forest productivity gradients. The gradients, two gentle slopes in northern Sweden, are the result of groundwater movement and are characterized by reduced productivity upslope due to lower nitrogen availability. As expected, ectomycorrhizas density in the O horizon was higher upslope, where nitrogen availability was lower and where the vegetation was dominated by ectomycorrhizas plant species. We consistently found that tunnel formation in mineral grains was more intense in nutrient-poor sites, indicating a higher contribution of fungi to ecosystem influx of potassium and calcium. Ectomycorrhizas density was positively correlated with feldspar tunnel density in the upper 2 cm of the E horizon. This suggests that ectomycorrhizas are involved in mineral tunneling. We discuss the possible involvement of ericoid mycorrhizas and saprotrophic fungi in feldspar tunneling and the role of the weathering status of mineral grains as additional factors controlling mineral funneling.

Key words: boreal forest; ectomycorrhiza; ericoid mycorrhiza; feldspar tunneling; productivity gradient; weathering.』


Materials and methods
 Study sites
 Soil sampling
 Ectomycorrhizal density and root length
 Mineralogy and texture
 Micromorphology: Tunneling and weathering status
 Tunnel formation and weathering along the gradients
 Ectomycorrhizal density
 Relationship of ectomycorrhizas density to tunnel density
 Tunnel formation and weathering along productivity gradients
 Relationship between ectomycorrhizas density and tunnel formation