Mycorrhizal fungi and the nutrient ecology of three oldfield annual plant species
Three oldfield annual species (Abutilon theophrasti Medic., Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. and Setaria lutescens (Weigel) Hubb.) were investigated. All three developed substantial mycorrhizal infections when inoculated with Glomus etunicatum Becker & Gerd. Mycorrhizal infection dramatically increased phosphorus content and dry weight of both Abutilon and Ambrosia, but did not significantly affect dry weight and only modestly increased phosphorus content of Setaria. These results were consistent with a lower level of infection and much greater root density in Setaria than in the other species. When Abutilon was grown in the presence of Setaria, mycorrhizal infection had no effect on Abutilon phosphorus content or dry weight. The depressive effect of Setaria on the response to inoculation in Abutilon was probably not caused by water soluble allelopathic chemicals from Setaria roots, but soil leachate from Abutilon plants did inhibit infection in other Abutilon plants. The data were consistent with the hypothesis that the very high root density and effective soil exploitation of Setaria reduced the benefit from mycorrhizal infection in Abutilon via phosphorus depletion in a large proportion of the available soil volume. Furthermore, even if mycorrhizal infection were capable of increasing phosphorus content of Abutilon in the presence of Setaria, the very high competitive ability of Setaria for nitrogen in the soil could have reduced the benefit of an enhanced phosphorus content. Carbon isotope ratios were reduced in Abutilon by mycorrhizal infection, indicating a possible reduction in water use efficiency.
Key wordsAbutilon theophrasti Ambrosia artemisiifolia Setaria lutescens Allelopathy Mycorrhiza
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