Mycorrhiza and root hairs in barley enhance acquisition of phosphorus and uranium from phosphate rock but mycorrhiza decreases root to shoot uranium transfer


Author for correspondence: Iver Jakobsen Tel: +45 46774154 Fax: +45 46774202 Email:


  • • Some phosphate rocks (PR) contain high concentrations of uranium (U), which are potentially toxic via accumulation in soils and food chains, and plant uptake of U is likely to be influenced by characteristics of roots and associated microorganisms. The relative importance of root hairs and mycorrhiza in U uptake from PR was studied using a root hairless barley (Hordeum vulgare) mutant (Brb) and its wild type (WT).
  • • Both plant genotypes were grown in pots with Glomus intraradices BEG 87, or in the absence of mycorrhiza, and three P treatments were included: nil P, 2% (w/w) PR and 50 mg KH2PO4-P kg−1 soil.
  • • Mycorrhiza markedly increased d. wts and P contents of Brb amended with nil P or PR, but generally depressed d. wts of WT plants, irrespective of P amendments. Mycorrhiza had contrasting effects on U contents in roots and shoots, in particular in Brb where mycorrhiza increased root U concentrations but decreased U translocation from roots to shoots.
  • • The experiment supports our understanding of arbuscular mycorrhiza as being multifunctional by not only improving the utilization of PR by the host plant but also by contributing to the phytostabilization of uranium.