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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi modify nutrient allocation and composition in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) subjected to heat-stress



To evaluate the role of the AM symbiosis on nutrient allocation in Triticum aestivum L. cv. 1110 at different growth stages before and after heat-stress at anthesis.


Measurements of plant biomass and grain yield at anthesis, grain-filling and maturity; determination of macro- and micronutrient concentrations in aboveground biomass; evaluation of AM fungal structures in roots and assessment of light-use efficiency of plants.


AM increased grain number in wheat under heat-stress, and altered nutrient allocation and tiller nutrient composition. Heat increased number of arbuscules in wheat root, whereas number of vesicles and total colonization were unaffected. Heat increased photosystem II yield and the electron transfer rate, whereas non-photochemical quenching decreased during the first 2 days of heat-stress.


Nutrient allocation and –composition in wheat grown under heat-stress were altered by AM symbiosis, which lowered the K/Ca ratio, whereas it was increased by heat-stress. The increased carbon availability in spikes at this developmental stage, related to the C sink strength of the AM symbiosis and its influence on source-sink relationships in the host-plant, resulted in increased number of grains in heat-stressed AM plants.

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi


Arbuscular mycorrhiza
























days after sowing


soil relative water content


fresh weight


dry weight


limit of quantification


Photosystem II


photosystem II yield


electron transfer rate


non-photochemical quenching


photosynthetically active radiation.


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The authors declare no conflict of interest. This work is mainly financed by the Department of Agroecology of Aarhus University but partially financed by Frands Christian Frantsens Fonden, that contributed to C.C’s stay at Maritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute in Bulgaria, to perform the nutrient analysis. We would like to thank Sasha Manolova and Evdokia Kazakova for the assistance and guidance with nutrient analyses. We thank Betina Hansen, for the assistance in the semi-field; Steen Meier for the climate chamber assistance and Anne-Pia Larsen for the guidance in the microscopic observations and AMF analyses. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the reviewers and the section editor for the insightful and pertinent comments to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sabine Ravnskov.

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Supplementary Fig. 1
figure 5

Daily temperature averages at the outdoor semi-field conditions at the experimental site. Represented are 24 h averages of the temperature (GIF 57 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 2
figure 6

Total colonization/ root length (m) assessed in (Triticum aestivum L. cv 1110) roots inoculated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (A+) and subjected to heat-stress (H+) or not (H-), and harvested at 46 (1st harvest, Z65), 53 (2nd harvest, Z69) and 121 (3rd harvest, Z89) days after sowing. Values are means (n = 7). Z: growth stage at harvest (Bleiholder et al. 2001) (GIF 29 kb)

High Resolution Image (TIF 17199 kb)

High Resolution Image (TIF 95 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

Summary of the effect of soil temperature on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi growth. Please note that the original nomenclature from the references cited was used in this table. (DOCX 19 kb)

Supplementary Table 2

Macro- and micronutrient concentrations assessed in the tillers of wheat plants (Triticum aestivum L. cv 1110) inoculated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (A+) or not (A-) and harvested at 46 days after sowing (1st harvest, Z65). (DOCX 14 kb)

Supplementary Table 3

Developmental traits assessed in wheat plants (Triticum aestivum L. cv 1110) inoculated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (A+) or not (A-), subjected to heat-stress (H+) or not (H-), and harvested at 46 (1st harvest, Z65), 53 (2nd harvest, Z69) and 121 (3rd harvest, Z89) days after sowing. (DOCX 15 kb)

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Cabral, C., Ravnskov, S., Tringovska, I. et al. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi modify nutrient allocation and composition in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) subjected to heat-stress. Plant Soil 408, 385–399 (2016).

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  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Grain number
  • Nutrient allocation
  • Light-use efficiency