TitleSurplus Carbon Drives Allocation and Plant–Soil Interactions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsPrescott, CE, Greyston, SJ, Helmisaari, H-S, Kaštovská, E, Korner, C, Lambers, H, Meier, IC, Millard, P, Ostonen, I
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Keywordscarbon allocation, mycorrhizal fungi, nonstructural carbohydrates, nutrient limitation, root exudates, secondary metabolites

Plant growth is usually constrained by the availability of nutrients, water, or temperature, rather than photosynthetic carbon (C) fixation. Under these conditions leaf growth is curtailed more than C fixation, and the surplus photosynthates are exported from the leaf. In plants limited by nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P), photosynthates are converted into sugars and secondary metabolites. Some surplus C is translocated to roots and released as root exudates or transferred to root-associated microorganisms. Surplus C is also produced under low moisture availability, low temperature, and high atmospheric CO2 concentrations, with similar below-ground effects. Many interactions among above- and below-ground ecosystem components can be parsimoniously explained by the production, distribution, and release of surplus C under conditions that limit plant growth.