Kinetics of amino acid uptake by ectomycorrhizal roots


Thomas Wallenda Fax: 44 114 276 0159; e-mail:


It is well established that ectomycorrhizal fungi can use amino acids as nitrogen and carbon sources, but data on the kinetic properties of amino acid uptake systems of ectomycorrhizal systems are scarce. Using 14C-labelled compounds we have determined the kinetics of uptake of amino acids by excised ectomycorrhizal roots for a range of distinct mycorrhizal types from three tree species, beech, spruce, and pine. All mycorrhizal types examined took up amino acids via high-affinity transport systems (KM values ranging from 19 to 233 mmol m–3). A comparative analysis of kinetic parameters for uptake of amino acids and the ammonium analogue methylammonium showed that ectomycorrhizal roots have similar or even higher affinities (lower KM values) for the amino acids, indicating that absorption of these organic forms of nitrogen (N) can contribute significantly to total N uptake by ectomycorrhizal plants. Analysis of amino acid uptake by ectomycorrhizal roots collected along a European north/south gradient of increasing mineral N pollution from northern Sweden to south Germany revealed no obvious trend in the uptake capabilities for amino acids by ectomycorrhizal roots in relation to the location of the sampling site on this gradient. Rather, the fungal species forming a particular morphotype was the factor determining uptake kinetics. It can therefore be deduced that the species composition of the fungal community will contribute significantly to the functional diversity of a population of mycorrhizal roots.