Effects of two contrasted arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal isolates on nutrient uptake by Sorghum bicolor under drought
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Drought is a limiting factor for crop production, especially in arid and semi-arid climates. In this study, Sorghum bicolor plants were inoculated, or not, with Rhizophagus irregularis, an arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) strain typical for temperate climates, or Rhizophagus arabicus, a strain endemic to hyper-arid ecosystems. Plants were grown under well-watered or drought conditions in compartmented microcosms. Transpiration rates, plant growth, and nutrient uptake (using 15N as a tracer) were determined to assess the impact of drought stress on sorghum plants in AM symbiosis. Although AM colonization did not affect the bulk biomass of host plants, R. arabicus improved their transpiration efficiency and drought tolerance more than R. irregularis. Moreover, R. arabicus was able to extract more 15N from the soil under both water regimes, and AM-driven enhancement of the nitrogen and phosphorus content of sorghum, especially when water was limiting, was greater for R. arabicus-inoculated plants than for R. irregularis-inoculated plants. Our work demonstrates close links between AM hyphal phosphorus and nitrogen transport and uptake by AM plants for both AM fungal species. It also underscores that, under the drought stress conditions we applied, R. arabicus transfers significantly more nitrogen to sorghum than R. irregularis.
KeywordsArbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis Sorghum Drought Isotopes Nitrogen transfer
We thank Mark Rollog and T. Kuhn for laboratory assistance and scientific support in the stable isotope lab.
This project was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant nos. 127563 to T. Boller, PZ00P3_136651 to P.-E. Courty, 130794 to A. Wiemken and the R’Equip grant no. 121258 to M. F. Lehmann and T. Boller)
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