Mycorrhizal-mediated phosphorus transfer between tallgrass prairie plants Sorghastrum nutans and Artemisia ludoviciana


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  • 1A glasshouse 32P-labelling study examined arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM)-mediated transfer of phosphorus between individuals of two tallgrass prairie species, an obligately mycotrophic grass (Sorghastrum nutans Vitm.) and a facultatively mycotrophic forb (Artemisia ludoviciana Nutt.).
  • 2Regardless of which species served as donor, 32P was transferred between both intra- and interspecific neighbours via AM mycelia. However, nutrient transfer via AM fungi was not uniform between neighbouring species.
  • 3Conservative estimates indicate that interplant transfer via AM fungi accounted for >50% of the total 32P acquisition by S. nutans, but accounted for only 20% of 32P uptake into A. ludoviciana.
  • 4While this study did not show conclusively that a common mycelial network acted as a conduit for nutrient transfer, it clearly demonstrated that mycorrhizae facilitated transfer.
  • 5The results indicate that differential movement of plant resources via AM mycelium may be a mechanism whereby a dominant, highly mycotrophic grass extends competitive advantage over a less mycotrophic, subdominant forb species in grasslands.