We investigated the effect of elevated CO2 on the growth and mycorrhizal colonization of three tree species native to north-eastern American forests (Betula papyrifera Marsh., Pinus strobus L. and Tsuga Canadensis L. Carr). Saplings of the tree species were collected from Harvard Forest, Massachusetts, and grown in forest soil under ambient (c. 375 ppm) and elevated (700 ppm) atmospheric CO., concentrations for 27–35 wk.
In all three species there was a trend to increasing whole-plant, total-root and fine-root biomass in elevated CO2, and a significant increase in the degree of ectomycorrhizal colonization in B. papyrifera and P. strobus, but not in T. Canadensis. However, in T, Canadensis the degree of colonization with arbuscular mycorrhizas increased significantly. In both the ambient and elevated environments, on the roots of B. papyrifera and P. strobus 12 distinct ectomycorrhizal morphotypes were identified. Distinct changes in the ectomycorrhizal morphotype assemblage of B. papvrifera were observed under CO2 enrichment. This change resulted in an increase in the frequency of ectomycorrhizas with a higher incidence of emanating hyphae and rhizomorphs, and resulted in a higher density of fungal hyphae in a root exclusion chamber.