Water uptake by safflower and wheat roots infected with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi


To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: dave_brylaaages.cas.pim.edu


The objective of this study was to determine if infection by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi alters water uptake by roots under well watered to severely droughted conditions. Safflower and wheat plants were grown with and without the mycorrhizal fungi, Glomus etunicatum or G. intraradices in nutrient-amended soil under environmentally controlled conditions to yield mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants with similar leaf areas, root length densities, d. wt, and adequate tissue phosphorus and nitrogen. Specific water uptake rates (cm3 of water cm−1 root length d−1) were estimated non-destructively at various depths in the soil from changes in the soil water content measured using a gamma attenuation method. When soil water was severely depleted, changes in soil water potentials were also measured with soil psychrometers. Roots from both plant species extracted water at the fastest rate from the upper soil layers when the soil water content was high, and later, extracted water primarily from deeper depths as water in the upper soil layers was depleted. Mycorrhizal infection did not affect the rates at which roots extracted water from soil whether soil moisture conditions were at their wettest condition, at container capacity, or at the driest extreme when soil water potentials ranged from −1.5 to −2.0 MPa and the plants were completely wilted. Plant water relations were also largely unaffected by infection. Mycorrhizal infection did not alter the ability of plants to extract water from soil even during extreme drought.