Mycorrhizae are symbiotic associations between terrestrial plants and fungi in which fungi obtain nutrients in exchange for plant photosynthates. However, it remains unclear how different types of mycorrhizae affect their host interactions and productivity. Using a long-term experiment with a diversity gradient of arbuscular (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EcM) tree species, we show that the type of mycorrhizae critically controls the effect of diversity on productivity. With increasing diversity, the net primary production of AM trees increased, but EcM trees decreased, largely because AM trees are more effective in acquiring nitrogen and phosphorus. Specifically, with diversity increase, AM trees enhance both nutrient resorption and litter decomposition, while there was a trade-off between litter decomposability and nutrient resorption in EcM trees. These results provide a mechanistic understanding of why AM trees using a different nutrient acquisition strategy from EcM trees can dominate in subtropical forests and at the same time their diversity enhances productivity.