, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 173–181 | Cite as

Effects of co-inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia on soybean growth as related to root architecture and availability of N and P

  • Xiurong Wang
  • Qiang Pan
  • Fengxian Chen
  • Xiaolong Yan
  • Hong LiaoEmail author
Original Paper


Soybean plants can form tripartite symbiotic associations with rhizobia and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, but little is known about effects of co-inoculation with rhizobia and AM fungi on plant growth, or their relationships to root architecture as well as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability. In the present study, two soybean genotypes contrasting in root architecture were grown in a field experiment to evaluate relationships among soybean root architecture, AMF colonization, and nodulation under natural conditions. Additionally, a soil pot experiment in greenhouse was conducted to investigate the effects of co-inoculation with rhizobia and AM fungi on soybean growth, and uptake of N and P. Our results indicated that there was a complementary relationship between root architecture and AMF colonization in the field. The deep root soybean genotype had greater AMF colonization at low P, but better nodulation with high P supply than the shallow root genotype. A synergistic relationship dependent on N and P status exists between rhizobia and AM fungi on soybean growth. Co-inoculation with rhizobia and AM fungi significantly increased soybean growth under low P and/or low N conditions as indicated by increased shoot dry weight, along with plant N and P content. There were no significant effects of inoculation under adequate N and P conditions. Furthermore, the effects of co-inoculation were related to root architecture. The deep root genotype, HN112, benefited more from co-inoculation than the shallow root genotype, HN89. Our results elucidate new insights into the relationship between rhizobia, AM fungi, and plant growth under limitation of multiple nutrients, and thereby provides a theoretical basis for application of co-inoculation in field-grown soybean.


Soybean Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Rhizobia Co-inoculation 



This research was in part financially supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 30890132) and the National Key Basic Research Special Funds of China (Grant no. 2005CB120902). We are grateful to Dr. Xiaolin Li for the generous gift of mycorrhizal fungus Glomus mosseae, Dr. Tom Walk and Mr. Larry York for English writing. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Andrew Smith for the technical assistance in the AM work and valuable and critical comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiurong Wang
    • 1
  • Qiang Pan
    • 1
  • Fengxian Chen
    • 1
  • Xiaolong Yan
    • 1
  • Hong Liao
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Soil and Plant Nutrition in South China, Ministry of Agriculture; Root Biology CenterSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina

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