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Keywords:

  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi;
  • evolution;
  • grassland;
  • mycorrhizal responsiveness;
  • phylogenetic relatedness;
  • phylogenetic signal;
  • root colonization

Abstract

We assessed whether (1) arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization of roots (RC) and/or plant responses to arbuscular mycorrhizae (MR) vary with plant phylogeny and (2) MR and RC can be more accurately predicted with a phylogenetic predictor relative to a null model and models with plant trait and taxonomic predictors. In a previous study, MR and RC of 95 grassland species were measured. We constructed a phylogeny for these species and found it explained variation in MR and RC. Next, we used multiple regressions to identify the models that most accurately predicted plant MR. Models including either phylogenetic or phenotypic and taxonomic information similarly improved our ability to predict MR relative to a null model. Our study illustrates the complex evolutionary associations among species and constraints of using phylogenetic information, relative to plant traits, to predict how a plant species will interact with AMF.