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Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus on photosynthesis and water status of maize under high temperature stress

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis on gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence, pigment concentration and water status of maize plants in pot culture under high temperature stress. Zea mays L. genotype Zhengdan 958 were cultivated in soil at 26/22°C for 6 weeks, and later subjected to 25, 35 and 40°C for 1 week. The plants inoculated with the AM fungus Glomus etunicatum were compared with the non-inoculated plants. The results showed that high temperature stress decreased the biomass of the maize plants. AM symbiosis markedly enhanced the net photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance and transpiration rate in the maize leaves. Compared with the non-mycorrhizal plants, mycorrhizal plants had lower intercellular CO2 concentration under 40°C stress. The maximal fluorescence, maximum quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry and potential photochemical efficiency of mycorrhizal plants were significantly higher than corresponding non-mycorrhizal plants under high temperature stress. AM-inoculated plants had higher concentrations of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and carotenoid than non-inoculated plants. Furthermore, AM colonization increased water use efficiency, water holding capacity and relative water content. In conclusion, maize roots inoculated with AM fungus may protect the plants against high temperature stress by improving photosynthesis and water status.

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arbuscular mycorrhiza


intercellular CO2 concentration

E :

transpiration rate


maximal fluorescence


primary fluorescence


variable fluorescence


maximum quantum efficiency of PSII photochemistry


potential photochemical efficiency

gs :

stomatal conductance


net photosynthetic rate


photosystem II


relative water content


water holding capacity


water use efficiency


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This study was financially supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 31000679) and the Knowledge Innovation Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX2-YW-N-077).

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Correspondence to Xian-Can Zhu.

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Responsible Editor: Katharina Pawlowski.

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Zhu, XC., Song, FB., Liu, SQ. et al. Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus on photosynthesis and water status of maize under high temperature stress. Plant Soil 346, 189–199 (2011).

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