European and African maize cultivars differ in their physiological and molecular responses to mycorrhizal infection

Authors

  • Derek P. Wright,

    1. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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  • Julie D. Scholes,

    1. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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  • David J. Read,

    1. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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  • Stephen A. Rolfe

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
      Author for correspondence: Stephen Rolfe Tel: +44 (0)114 2220039 Fax: +44 (0)114 2220022 Email: s.rolfe@sheffield.ac.uk
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Author for correspondence: Stephen Rolfe Tel: +44 (0)114 2220039 Fax: +44 (0)114 2220022 Email: s.rolfe@sheffield.ac.uk

Summary

  • • Physiological and molecular responses to phosphorus (P) supply and mycorrhizal infection by Glomus intraradices were compared in European (River) and African (H511) maize (Zea mays) cultivars to examine the extent to which these responses differed between plants developed for use in high- and low-nutrient-input agricultural systems.
  • • Biomass, photosynthetic rates, nutrient and carbohydrate contents, mycorrhizal colonization and nutrient-responsive phosphate transporter gene expression were measured in nonmycorrhizal and mycorrhizal plants grown at different inorganic phosphorus (Pi) supply rates.
  • • Nonmycorrhizal River plants grew poorly at low Pi but were highly responsive to mycorrhizal infection; there were large increases in biomass, tissue P content and the rate of photosynthesis and a decline in the expression of phosphate transporter genes. Nonmycorrhizal H511 plants grew better than River plants at low Pi, and had a higher root : shoot ratio. However, the responses of H511 plants to higher Pi supplies and mycorrhizal infection were much more limited than those of River plants.
  • • The adaptations that allowed nonmycorrhizal H511 plants to perform well in low-P soils limited their ability to respond to higher nutrient supply rates and mycorrhizal infection. The European variety had not lost the ability to respond to mycorrhizas and may have traits useful for low-nutrient agriculture where mycorrhizal symbioses are established.

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