- High soil phosphorus (P) concentration is frequently shown to reduce root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, but the influence of P on the diversity of colonizing AM fungi is uncertain.
- We used terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) of 18S rDNA and cloning to assess diversity of AM fungi colonizing maize (Zea mays), soybean (Glycene max) and field violet (Viola arvensis) at three time points in one season along a P gradient of 10–280 mg l−1 in the field.
- Percentage AM colonization changed between sampling time points but was not reduced by high soil P except in maize. There was no significant difference in AM diversity between sampling time points. Diversity was reduced at concentrations of P > 25 mg l−1, particularly in maize and soybean. Both cloning and T-RFLP indicated differences between AM communities in the different host species. Host species was more important than soil P in determining the AM community, except at the highest P concentration.
- Our results show that the impact of soil P on the diversity of AM fungi colonizing plants was broadly similar, despite the fact that different plants contained different communities. However, subtle differences in the response of the AM community in each host were evident.