- •Nitrogen (N) availability is known to influence ectomycorrhizal fungal components, such as fungal community composition, biomass of root tips and production of mycelia, but effects have never been demonstrated within the same forest.
- •We measured concurrently the abundance of ectomycorrhizal root tips and the production of external mycelia, and explored the changes in the ectomycorrhizal community composition, across a stand-scale N deposition gradient (from 27 to 43 kg N ha−1 yr−1) at the edge of a spruce forest. The N status was affected along the gradient as shown by a range of N availability indices.
- •Ectomycorrhizal root tip abundance and mycelial production decreased five and 10-fold, respectively, with increasing N deposition. In addition, the ectomycorrhizal fungal community changed and the species richness decreased. The changes were correlated with the measured indices of N status, in particular N deposition and N leaching.
- •The relationship between the altered ectomycorrhizal community, root tip abundance and mycelial production is discussed in the context of the N parameters. We suggest that increased N deposition to forests will cause large changes in ectomycorrhizal fungal community structure and functioning, which, in turn, may result in reduced N uptake by roots and fungi, and increased losses of N by leaching.