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Keywords:

  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis;
  • drought stress;
  • maize;
  • hexoses;
  • trehalose

To study the response of non-mycorrhizal and mycorrhizal maize plants to drought, the changes in the pools of non-structural carbohydrates and amino acids were analysed in leaves and roots of two maize cvs. Plants well colonized by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Glomus mosseae (Nicol. & Gerd.) (60% of root length infected) and comparable non-mycorrhizal plants were subjected to moderate drought stress by reducing the water supply. This stress induced a conspicuous increase in the trehalose pool in the mycorrhizal roots, probably because it was accumulated by the fungal symbiont. Furthermore, glucose and fructose were accumulated in leaves and roots of non-mycorrhizal plants but not in the mycorrhizal ones. Starch disappeared completely from the leaves of both mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants in response to drought. Activities of soluble acid invertase and trehalase were also measured. Acid invertase activity increased during drought in the leaves of both non-mycorrhizal and mycorrhizal plants whilst in the roots it was unaffected in non-mycorrhizal plants and decreased in the mycorrhizal ones. Without drought stress, trehalase activity was considerably higher in the leaves and roots of mycorrhizal plants than in those of non-mycorrhizal plants. It increased conspicuously during drought, primarily in the leaves of non-mycorrhizal plants. A drought-induced accumulation of amino acids as well as imino acids was found in roots and leaves of both mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants; leaves of mycorrhizal plants accumulated more imino acids than those of non-mycorrhizal ones. Our results show that drought stress and the presence of a mycorrhizal fungus have a considerable effect on carbon partitioning, imino acid and amino acid accumulation in maize plants.