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To determine the dominant processes controlling nitrogen (N) dynamics in soils and increase insights into soil N cycling from nitrogen isotope (?15N) data, patterns of 15N enrichment in soil profiles were compiled from studies on tropical, temperate, and boreal systems. The maximum 15N enrichment between litter and deeper soil layers varied strongly with mycorrhizal fungal association, averaging 9.6 � 0.4? in ectomycorrhizal systems and 4.6 � 0.5? in arbuscular mycorrhizal systems. The 15N enrichment varied little with mean annual temperature, precipitation, or nitrification rates. One main factor controlling 15N in soil profiles, fractionation against 15N during N transfer by mycorrhizal fungi to host plants, leads...