Does the presence of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi influence growth and nutrient uptake of a wild-type tomato cultivar and a mycorrhiza-defective mutant, cultivated with roots sharing the same soil volume?


  • Elke Neumann,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Plant Nutrition (330), Hohenheim University, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany;
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  • Eckhard George

    1. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia;
    2. Permanent address: Physiology of Plant Nutrition, Institute of Crop Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin and Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ), 14979 Grossbeeren, Germany
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Author for correspondence: Elke Neumann Tel: +49 (0)711 459 3504 Fax: +49 (0)711 459 3295 Email:


  • • We investigated the growth and nutrient uptake of the Lycopersicon esculentum symbiosis mycorrhiza-defective plant mutant rmc, challenged with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) fungal propagules, in the presence or absence of roots of the commercial wild-type tomato cv. Golden Queen (GQ).
  • • Two plants shared the middle (combi) compartment of a horizontal three-compartment split-root pot with one part of their root system; the other part was grown separately in an outer (solo) pot. Combinations of rmc and GQ plants were grown together in soil that was either mycorrhiza-free (–M) or prepared with AM fungal inoculum (+M).
  • • Surface colonization of rmc roots was strongly increased in the presence of (+M) GQ roots. AM fungal inoculation increased phosphorus uptake of GQ plants, but decreased growth and P uptake of rmc plants. Growth and P uptake of (+M) GQ plants were reduced when plants were grown in combination with rmc rather than another GQ plant.
  • • AM fungi in the (combi) compartment may have preferentially formed hyphae spreading infection rather than functioning in P uptake in (+M) GQ plants grown in combination with rmc. Surface colonization of (+M) rmc roots, in the presence of GQ roots, was probably established at the expense of carbohydrates from associated GQ plants. Possible reasons for a decreased P uptake of rmc plants in response to AM fungal inoculation are proposed.