, Volume 192, Issue 2, pp 261-268

Influence of arbuscular mycorrhizae and Rhizobium on nutrient content and water relations in drought stressed alfalfa

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Abstract

The objective of this research was to study the effect of drought on nutrient content and leaf water status in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. cv Aragón) plants inoculated with a mycorrhizal fungus and/or Rhizobium compared with noninoculated ones. The four treatments were: a) plants inoculated with Glomus fasciculatum and Rhizobium meliloti 102 F51 strain, (MR); b) plants inoculated with R. meliloti only (R); c) plants with G. fasciculatum only (M); and d) noninoculated plants (N). Nonmycorrhizal plants were supplemented with phosphorus and nonnodulated ones with nitrogen to achieve similar size and nutrient content in all treatments. Plants were drought stressed using two cycles of moisture stress and recovery. The components of total leaf water potential (osmotic and pressure potentials at full turgor), percentage of apoplastic water volume and the bulk modulus of elasticity of leaf tissue were determined. Macronutrient (N, P, K, Ca, S and Mg) and micronutrient (Co, Mo, Zn, Mn, Cu, Na, Fe and B) content per plant were also measured. Leaves of N and R plants had decreased osmotic potentials and increased pressure potentials at full turgor, with no changes either in the bulk modulus of elasticity or the percentage of apoplastic water upon drought conditions. By contrast, M and MR leaves did not vary in osmotic and turgor potentials under drought stress but had increased apoplastic water volume and cell elasticity (lowering bulk modulus). Drought stress decreased nutrient content of leaves and roots of noninoculated plants. R plants showed a decrease in nutrient content of leaves but maintained some micronutrients in roots. Leaves of M plants were similar in content of nutrients to N plants. However, roots of M and MR plants had significantly lower nutrient content. Results indicate an enhancement of nutrient content in mycorrhizal alfalfa plants during drought that affected leaf water relations during drought stress.