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Keywords:

  • Elevated CO2;
  • Artemisia tridentata Nutt.;
  • arbuscular mycorrhiza;
  • diversity

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi form mutualistic symbioses with the root systems of most plant species. These mutualisms regulate nutrient exchange in the plant–soil interface and might influence the way in which plants respond to increasing atmospheric CO2. In other experiments, mycorrhizal responses to elevated CO2 have been variable, so in this study we test the hypothesis that different genera of AM fungi differ in their response, and in turn alter the plant's response, to elevated CO2. Four species from three genera of AM fungi were tested. Artemisia tridentata Nutt. seedlings were inoculated with either Glomus intraradices Schenck & Smith, Glomus etunicatum Becker & Gerdemann, Acaulospora sp. or Scutellospora calospora (Nicol. & Gerd.) Walker & Sanders and grown at either ambient CO2 (350 ppm) or elevated CO2 (700 ppm). Several significant inter-specific responses were detected. Elevated CO2 caused percent arbuscular and hyphal colonization to increase for the two Glomus species, but not for Acaulospora sp. or S. calospora. Vesicular colonization was not affected by elevated CO2 for any fungal species. In the extra-radical phase, the two Glomus species produced a significantly higher number of spores in response to elevated CO2, whereas Acaulospora sp. and S. calospora developed significantly higher hyphal lengths. These data show that AM fungal taxa differ in their growth allocation strategies and in their responses to elevated CO2, and that mycorrhizal diversity should not be overlooked in global change research.