loading page

Soil fungal mycelia have unexpectedly flexible stoichiometric C:N and C:P ratios
  • +1
  • Tessa Camenzind,
  • Kay Grenz,
  • Johannes Lehmann,
  • Matthias Rillig
Tessa Camenzind
Freie Universität Berlin

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Kay Grenz
Freie Universität Berlin
Author Profile
Johannes Lehmann
Cornell University
Author Profile
Matthias Rillig
Freie Universität Berlin
Author Profile


Soil ecological stoichiometry provides powerful theories to integrate the complex interplay of element cycling and microbial communities into biogeochemical models. One essential assumption is that microbes maintain stable C:N:P (carbon:nitrogen:phosphorus) ratios independent of resource supply, although such homeostatic regulations have rarely been assessed in individual microorganisms. Here, we report an unexpected high flexibility in C:N and C:P values of saprobic fungi along nutrient supply gradients, overall ranging between 7-126 and 20-1488, respectively, questioning microbial homeostasis. Fungal N:P varied comparatively less due to simultaneous reductions in mycelial N and P contents. As a mechanism, internal recycling processes during mycelial growth and an overall reduced N and P uptake appear more relevant than element storage. The relationships among fungal stoichiometry and growth disappeared in more complex media. These findings affect our interpretation of stoichiometric imbalances among microbes and soils and are highly relevant for developing microbial soil organic carbon and nitrogen models.
08 Aug 2020Submitted to Ecology Letters
10 Aug 2020Submission Checks Completed
10 Aug 2020Assigned to Editor
13 Aug 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
04 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
21 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
23 Sep 20201st Revision Received
24 Sep 2020Submission Checks Completed
24 Sep 2020Assigned to Editor
28 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
30 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Accept
09 Nov 2020Published in Ecology Letters. 10.1111/ele.13632