Density-dependent grazing on the extraradical hyphal network of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus, Glomus intraradices, by the collembolan, Folsomia candida
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The effect of microarthropod density on the relative palatibility of selected microfungi and on the integrity of extraradical arbuscular-mycorrhizal (AM) hyphal networks was examined. A series of microcosm experiments were conducted using two conidial fungi (Alternaria alternata and Trichoderma harzianum), one AM fungus (Glomus intraradices) and the microarthropod Folsomia candida (Collembola). We did not detect a significant effect of athropod density on food preference. Food preferences for conidial over mycorrhizal hyphae were consistent across a wide range of collembolan densities. Collembolan density did, however, have a significant effect on the numbers of extraradical AM hyphae which were severed from the plant root in vitro. Even in the presence of a preferred food source, numbers of severed AM hyphal networks increased with increasing collembolan density. Also, the fecundity of Folsomia candida increased in the presence of preferred food sources. We conclude that microarthropod population densities are influenced by the fungal species available and that the potential of microarthropods to impair the efficacy of AM symbioses is density-dependent.
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