Project description:BACKGROUND/AIMS: Recently, new palaeoecological records supported by molecular analyses and palaeodistributional modelling have provided more comprehensive insights into plant behaviour during the last Quaternary cycle. We reviewed the migration history of species of subgenus Alnus during the last 50,000 years in Europe with a focus on (1) a general revision of Alnus history since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), (2) evidence of northern refugia of Alnus populations during the LGM and (3) the specific history of Alnus in particular European regions. METHODOLOGY: We determined changes in Alnus distribution on the basis of 811 and 68 radiocarbon-dated pollen and macrofossil sites, respectively. We compiled data from the European Pollen Database, the Czech Quaternary Palynological Database, the Eurasian Macrofossil Database and additional literature. Pollen percentage thresholds indicating expansions or retreats were used to describe patterns of past Alnus occurrence. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: An expansion of Alnus during the Late Glacial and early Holocene periods supports the presence of alders during the LGM in southern peninsulas and northerly areas in western Europe, the foothills of the Alps, the Carpathians and northeastern Europe. After glaciers withdrew, the ice-free area of Europe was likely colonized from several regional refugia; the deglaciated area of Scandinavia was likely colonized from a single refugium in northeastern Europe. In the more northerly parts of Europe, we found a scale-dependent pattern of Alnus expansion characterised by a synchronous increase of Alnus within individual regions, though with regional differences in the times of the expansion. In southern peninsulas, the Alps and the Carpathians, by contrast, it seems that Alnus expanded differently at individual sites rather than synchronously in whole regions. CONCLUSIONS: Our synthesis supports the idea that northern LGM populations were important sources of postglacial Alnus expansion. The delayed Alnus expansion apparent in some regions was likely a result of environmental limitations.
Project description:Soil contamination by metals is of particular interest, given that their retention times within the profile can be indefinite. Thus, phytostabilization can be viewed as a means of limiting metal toxicity in soils. Due to their ability to grow on contaminated soils, alders have repeatedly been used as key species in phytostabilization efforts. Alder ability to grow on contaminated sites stems, in part, from its association with microbial endophytes. This work emphasizes the fungal endophytes populations associated with Alnus incana ssp. rugosa and Alnus alnobetula ssp. crispa (previously A. viridis ssp. crispa) under a phytostabilization angle. Fungal endophytes were isolated from alder trees that were growing on or near disturbed environments; their tolerances to Cu, Ni, Zn, and As, and acidic pH (4.3, 3, and 2) were subsequently assessed. Cryptosporiopsis spp. and Rhizoscyphus spp. were identified as fungal endophytes of Alnus for the first time. When used as inoculants for alder, some isolates promoted plant growth, while others apparently presented antagonistic relationships with the host plant. This study reports the first step in finding the right fungal endophytic partners for two species of alder used in phytostabilization of metal-contaminated mining sites.
Project description:Nutrient cycling, nutrient use efficiency and nitrogen fixation in an age series of Alnus-cardamom plantations were studied in the eastern Himalaya. The impact of stand age (5, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 years) on the nutrient dynamics of mixtures of N2-fixing (Alnus nepalensis) and non-N2-fixing (large cardamom) plants was assessed. Foliar nutrient concentrations of Alnus decreased with advancing age groups of plantations and showed an inverse relationship with stand age. Annual N fixation increased from the 5-year-old stand (52 kg ha(-1)), peaking in the 15-year-old stand (155 kg ha(-1)) and then decreased with increasing plantation age. Nitrogen and phosphorus uptake was lowest in the 40-year-old stand, and highest in the 15- and 5-year-old stand, respectively. Nutrient storage in understorey cardamom was very high: up to 31 % N and 59 % P of the stand total in the 15-year-old stand. Nutrient use efficiency was higher (with faster turnover times) in younger stands and decreased (with slower turnover times) in older plantations. Nitrogen retranslocation showed a strong positive relationship with stand age, while that of P was inversely related to stand age. Nutrient standing stock, uptake and return were also highest in the 15-year-old stand. Nitrogen and P cycling in Alnus-cardamom plantations was functionally balanced. Nutrient cycling and dynamics indicated that Alnus-cardamom plantations performed sustainably up to 15-20 years. The management practice should be altered to incorporate replantation after this age.
Project description:Biomass, net primary productivity, energetics and energy efficiencies were estimated in an age series of Alnus-cardamom plantations in the eastern Himalaya. The impact of stand age (5, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 years) on the performance of mixtures of N2-fixing (Alnus nepalensis) and non-N2-fixing (large cardamom) plants was studied. Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum) is the most important perennial cash crop in the region and is cultivated predominantly under Alnus trees. Net primary productivity was lowest (7 t ha(-1) per year) in the 40-year-old stand and was more than three times higher (22 t ha(-1) per year) in the 15-year-old stand. Agronomic yield of large cardamom peaked between 15 and 20 years of age. Cardamom productivity doubled from the 5- to the 15-year-old stand, and then decreased with plantation age to reach a minimum in the 40-year-old stand. Performance of cardamom in association of N2-fixing Alnus remained beneficial until 20 years of age. Annual net energy fixation was highest (444 x 10(6) kJ ha(-1) per year) in the 15-year-old stand, being 1.4 times that of the 5-year-old stand and 2.9-times that of the 40-year-old stand. Inverse relationships of production efficiency, energy conversion efficiency and energy utilized in N2-fixation against stand age, and a positive relationship between production efficiency and energy conversion efficiency suggest that the younger plantations are more productive. The Alnus-cardamom plantation system will be sustainable by adopting a rotational cycle of 15 to 20 years.
Project description:A number of recent studies suggest that interspecific competition plays a key role in determining the structure of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal communities. Despite this growing consensus, there has been limited study of ECM fungal community dynamics in abiotically stressful environments, which are often dominated by positive rather than antagonistic interactions. In this study, we examined the ECM fungal communities associated with the host genus Alnus, which live in soils high in both nitrate and acidity. The nature of ECM fungal species interactions (i.e., antagonistic, neutral, or positive) was assessed using taxon co-occurrence and DNA sequence abundance correlational analyses. ECM fungal communities were sampled from root tips or mesh in-growth bags in three monodominant A. rubra plots at a site in Oregon, USA and identified using Illumina-based amplification of the ITS1 gene region. We found a total of 175 ECM fungal taxa; 16 of which were closely related to known Alnus-associated ECM fungi. Contrary to previous studies of ECM fungal communities, taxon co-occurrence analyses on both the total and Alnus-associated ECM datasets indicated that the ECM fungal communities in this system were not structured by interspecific competition. Instead, the co-occurrence patterns were consistent with either random assembly or significant positive interactions. Pair-wise correlational analyses were also more consistent with neutral or positive interactions. Taken together, our results suggest that interspecific competition does not appear to determine the structure of all ECM fungal communities and that abiotic conditions may be important in determining the specific type of interaction occurring among ECM fungi.