Plant and Soil

, Volume 137, Issue 2, pp 267–274 | Cite as

Specificity of interplant cycling of phosphorus: The role of mycorrhizas

  • W. R. Eason
  • E. I. Newman
  • P. N. Chuba


The cycling of nutrients from dying roots of one plant (the ‘donor’) to other intact plants (the ‘receivers’) was examined in a series of pot experiments. In each pot receiver plants formed either the same or a different type of mycorrhiza as the donor plant and was therefore respectively either capable or incapable of forming mycorrhizal hyphal links to the donor. There was a preferential transfer of 32P from the dying roots of the vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) Lolium perenne to VAM-infected trees Acer pseudoplatanus and Fraxinus excelsior compared to the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) Larix eurolepis, this despite an apparently greater competitive ability of L. eurolepis to obtain 32P from the soil. Following the death of L. perenne roots there was also an increase in total P in the VAM tree receiver. These findings could not be explained by similarities in rooting distribution of the VAM-infected plants.

In a similar study of the transfer of 32P between heathland plants there was a preferential cycling of 32P from one ericoid mycorrhizal Calluna vulgaris to another rather than to the VAM Molinia caerulea. In contrast, when 32P was supplied directly to the soil, M. caerulea obtained significantly more 32P than C. vulgaris. These results are discussed in relation to the potential role of interplant mycorrhizal links in the cycling of nutrients within partially closed cycles and the implications that this might have for species balance in plant communities.

Key words

mycorrhizas nutrient cycling roots ryegrass trees 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. R. Eason
    • 1
  • E. I. Newman
    • 1
  • P. N. Chuba
    • 1
  1. 1.Welsh Plant Breeding StationAFRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental ResearchAberystwythUK

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