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Per Persson. Photo.

Per Persson


Per Persson. Photo.

A widespread mechanism in ectomycorrhizal fungi to access nitrogen from mineral-associated proteins


  • Tao Wang
  • Per Persson
  • Anders Tunlid

Summary, in English

A large fraction of nitrogen (N) in forest soils is present in mineral-associated proteinaceous compounds. The strong association between proteins and minerals limits microbial accessibility to this source, which is a relatively stable reservoir of soil N. We have shown that the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungus Paxillus involutus can acquire N from iron oxide-associated proteins. Using tightly controlled isotopic, spectroscopic and chromatographic experiments, we demonstrated that the capacity to access N from iron oxide-associated bovine serum albumin (BSA) is shared with the ECM fungi Hebeloma cylindrosporum and Piloderma olivaceum. Despite differences in evolutionary history, growth rates, exploration types and the decomposition mechanisms of organic matter, their N acquisition mechanisms were similar to those described for P. involutus. The fungi released N from mineral-associated BSA by direct action of extracellular aspartic proteases on the mineral-associated BSA, without initial desorption of the protein. Hydrolysis was suppressed by the adsorption of proteases to minerals, but this adverse effect was counteracted by the secretion of compounds that conditioned the mineral surface. These data suggest that the enzymatic exudate-driven mechanism to access N from mineral-associated proteins is found in ECM fungi of multiple lineages and exploration types.


  • Microbial Ecology
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC - Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Environmental Microbiology

Document type

Journal article




  • Microbiology



Research group

  • Microbial Ecology


  • ISSN: 1462-2912