Modelling the contribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to plant phosphate uptake

Authors

  • Andrea Schnepf,

    1. Department of Water, Atmosphere, and Environment, Institute of Hydraulics and Rural Water Management, BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Muthgasse 18, A-1190 Vienna, Austria;
    2. Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and Centre for Mathematical Biology, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, 24–29 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LB, UK
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  • Tiina Roose

    1. Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and Centre for Mathematical Biology, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, 24–29 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LB, UK
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Author for correspondence: Andrea Schnepf Tel: +43 1 36006 5482 Fax: +43 1 36006 5499 Email: andrea.schnepf@boku.ac.at

Summary

  • • In this paper, we investigate the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in plant phosphorus nutrition. We develop a mathematical model which quantitatively assesses the contribution of external fungal hyphae to plant phosphate uptake.
  • • We derive an equation for solute uptake by a growing fungal mycelium which we couple with a model for root uptake. We analyse the model using nondimensionalization and numerical simulations.
  • • Simulations predict that removal of phosphate from soil is dominated by hyphal uptake as opposed to root uptake. Model analysis shows that the depletion zones around hyphae overlap within 8 h and that the transfer between fungus and root is a critical step for the behaviour of phosphorus within the mycelial phase. We also show that the volume fraction of mycelium is negligibly small in comparison to other soil phases.
  • • This is the first model to quantify the contribution of mycorrhizal fungi to plant phosphate uptake. A full data set for model parametrization and validation is not currently available. Therefore, more complete sets of experimental measurements are necessary to make this model more applicable.

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