Nitrogen supply affects arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization of Artemisia vulgaris in a phosphate-polluted field site


Author for correspondence: Verena Blanke Tel: +49 341 973 8577 Fax: +49 341 973 8599 Email:


  • • Root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) was investigated in industrially polluted grassland characterized by exceptionally high phosphorus levels (up to 120 g kg−1 soil).
  • • Along a pollution-induced nitrogen gradient, soil and tissue element concentrations of Artemisia vulgaris plants and their mycorrhizal status were determined. Additionally, we compared mycorrhization rates and above-ground biomass of A. vulgaris at N-fertilized and control plots in the N-poor area.
  • • Despite high soil and tissue P concentrations, plants from N-deficient plots, which were characterized by low tissue N concentrations and N : P ratios, were strongly colonized by AMF, whereas at a plot with comparable P levels, but higher soil and plant N concentrations and N : P ratios, mycorrhization rates were significantly lower. Correlation analyses revealed a negative relationship between percentage root colonization of A. vulgaris by AMF and both tissue N concentration and N : P ratio. Accordingly, in the fertilization experiment, control plants had higher mycorrhization rates than N-fertilized plants, whereas the species attained higher biomass at N-fertilized plots.
  • • The results suggest that N deficiency stimulates root colonization by AMF in this extraordinarily P-rich field site.