Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in New Phytologist 228 (2020), pp 253–268.

doi: 10.1111/nph.16672


Copyright © 2020 by the authors. Published by John Wiley for New Phytologist Trust.


• Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) produce contrasting plant–soil feedbacks, but how these feedbacks are constrained by lithology is poorly understood.

• We investigated the hypothesis that lithological drivers of soil fertility filter plant resource economic strategies in ways that influence the relative fitness of trees with AMF or EMF symbioses in a Bornean rain forest containing species with both mycorrhizal strategies.

• Using forest inventory data on 1245 tree species, we found that although AMF-hosting trees had greater relative dominance on all soil types, with declining lithological soil fertility EMF-hosting trees became more dominant. Data on 13 leaf traits and wood density for a total of 150 species showed that variation was almost always associated with soil type, whereas for six leaf traits (structural properties; carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus ratios, nitrogen isotopes), variation was also associated with mycorrhizal strategy. EMF-hosting species had slower leaf economics than AMF-hosts, demonstrating the central role of mycorrhizal symbiosis in plant resource economies.

• At the global scale, climate has been shown to shape forest mycorrhizal composition, but here we show that in communities it depends on soil lithology, suggesting scale-dependent abiotic factors influence feedbacks underlying the relative fitness of different mycorrhizal strategies.

Includes supplementary materials.