Are there benefits of simultaneous root colonization by different arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi?
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- • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) communities were established in pots using fungal isolates from a single field in Switzerland. It was tested whether multispecies mixtures provided more phosphorus and supported greater plant growth than single AMF species.
- • Two host plants, medic (Medicago truncatula) and leek (Allium porrum), were inoculated with three AMF species (Glomus mosseae, G. claroideum and G. intraradices), either separately or in mixtures. The composition of the AMF communities in the roots was assessed using real-time PCR to determine the copy number of large ribosomal subunit genes.
- • Fungal communities in the roots were usually dominated by one AMF species (G. mosseae). The composition of the communities depended on both plant identity and the time of harvest. Leek colonized by a mixture of G. claroideum and G. intraradices acquired more P than with either of the two AMF separately.
- • Direct evidence is provided for functional complementarity among species within the AMF community colonizing a single root system. Competition among the species poses a major challenge in interpreting experiments with mixed inoculations, but this is greatly facilitated by use of real-time PCR.