The impact of different defoliation intensities on the ability of Lotus tenuis plants to regrowth, mobilise nutrients and to associate with native AM fungi and Rhizobium in a saline-sodic soil was investigated. After 70 days, plants were subjected to 0, 25, 50, 75 and 100% defoliation and shoot regrowth was assessed at the end of subsequent 35 days. Compared to non-defoliated plants, low or moderate defoliation up to 75% did not affect shoot regrowth. However, 100% treatment affected shoot regrowth and the clipped plants were not able to compensate the growth attained by non-defoliated plants. Root growth was more affected by defoliation than shoot growth. P and N concentrations in shoots and roots increased with increasing defoliation while Na+ concentration in shoots of non-defoliated and moderately defoliated plants was similar. Non-defoliated and moderately defoliated plants prevented increases of Na+ concentration in shoots through both reducing Na+ uptake and Na+ transport to shoots by accumulating Na+ in roots. At high defoliation, the salinity tolerance mechanism is altered and Na+ concentration in shoots was higher than in roots. Reduction in the photosynthetic capacity induced by defoliation neither changed the root length colonised by AM fungi nor arbuscular colonisation but decreased the vesicular colonisation. Spore density did not change, but hyphal density and Rhizobium nodules increased with defoliation. The strategy of the AM symbiont consists in investing most of the C resources to preferentially retain arbuscular colonisation as well as inoculum density in the soil.