• phosphorus efficiency index;
  • phosphorus-use efficiency;
  • Beta vulgaris (beet);
  • Lactuca sativa (lettuce);
  • Abutilon theophrasti (velvetleaf);
  • mycorrhiza;
  • growth rate;
  • phosphorus deficiency

Two mycotrophic species (Lactuca sativa and Abutilon theophrasti) and one nonmycotrophic species (Beta vulgaris) were grown in a P-deficient soil, and the effects of mycorrhizal inoculation on three variables that determine growth rate were assessed for each. The phosphorus-use efficiency (PUE, dW/dP) is the ratio of d. wt increase to P content increase. Plant P is the amount of P (the limiting resource) controlled by the plant, which can be allocated to various purposes. The phosphorus efficiency index (PEI, dP/Pdt) is the efficiency with which plant P is used to acquire P from the soil. Inoculated and control plants of a given species initially contained the same amount of P because all plants were grown from seed. Mycorrhizal colonization significantly increased the PEI of Lactuca and Abutilon (by 23 and 32%, respectively). As expected, mycorrhizal inoculation did not significantly increase the PEI of Beta. As a result, mycorrhizal inoculation significantly increased the P content of Lactuca and Abutilon, but not Beta. Mycorrhizal colonization decreased the PUE of lettuce, but did not significantly affect that of Abutilon or Beta. Mycorrhizal inoculation therefore slightly increased the growth rate of Lactuca, greatly increased the growth rate of Abutilon, and ultimately had no significant effect on the growth rate of Beta.