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Genetic components to belowground carbon fluxes in a riparian forest ecosystem: a common garden approach

Nathan R. Lojewski, Dylan G. Fischer, Joseph K. Bailey, Jennifer A. Schweitzer, Thomas G. Whitham and Stephen C. Hart
The New Phytologist
Vol. 195, No. 3 (August 2012), pp. 631-639
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist Trust
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/newphytologist.195.3.631
Page Count: 9
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Genetic components to belowground carbon fluxes in a riparian forest ecosystem: a common garden approach
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Abstract

Summary Soil carbon dioxide (CO2) efflux is a major component of terrestrial carbon (C) cycles; yet, the demonstration of covariation between overstory tree genetic-based traits and soil C flux remains a major frontier in understanding biological controls over soil C. Here, we used a common garden with two native tree species, Populus fremontii and P. angustifolia, and their naturally occurring hybrids to test the predictability of belowground C fluxes on the basis of taxonomic identity and genetic marker composition of replicated clones of individual genotypes. Three patterns emerged: soil CO2 efflux and ratios of belowground flux to aboveground productivity differ by as much as 50–150% as a result of differences in clone identity and cross type; on the basis of Mantel tests of molecular marker matrices, we found that c. 30% of this variation was genetically based, in which genetically similar trees support more similar soil CO2 efflux under their canopies than do genetically dissimilar trees; and the patterns detected in an experimental garden match observations in the wild, and seem to be unrelated to measured abiotic factors. Our findings suggest that the genetic makeup of the plants growing on soil has a significant influence on the release of C from soils to the atmosphere.

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