Three symbionts involved in interspecific plant-soil feedback: epichloid endophytes and mycorrhizal fungi affect the performance of rhizobia-legume symbiosis
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Plants interact by modifying soil conditions in plant-soil feedback processes. Foliar endophytes of grasses exert multiple effects on host rhizosphere with potential consequences on plant-soil feedback. Here, we hypothesize that the grass-endophyte symbiosis impairs soil symbiotic potential, and in turn influences legume performance and nitrogen acquisition.
Soil was conditioned in pots, growing Lolium multiflorum with or without the fungal endophyte Epichloë and with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Then, Trifolium repens grew in all types of conditioned soils with high or low rhizobia availability.
Endophyte soil conditioning reduced AMF spores number and rhizobial nodules (−27 % and −38 %, respectively). Seedling survival was lower in endophyte-conditioned soil and higher in mycorrhizal soils (−27 % and +24 %, respectively). High rhizobia-availability allowed greater growth and nitrogen acquisition, independent of soil conditioning. Low rhizobia-availability allowed both effects only in endophyte-conditioned soil.
Endophyte-induced changes in soil (i) hindered symbiotic potential by reducing AMF spore availability or rhizobia nodulation, (ii) impaired legume survival irrespective of belowground symbionts presence, but (iii) mimicked rhizobia effects, enhancing growth and nitrogen fixation in poorly nodulated plants. Our results show that shoot and root symbionts can be interactively involved in interspecific plant-soil feedback.
KeywordsAboveground-belowground interactions Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi N-fixation Epichloë Soil conditioning Symbiosis
We are grateful to Laura Ventura, Rudi Schäufele, Mirta M. Rabadán, for their technical assistance. Rizobacter Argentina S.A. (Pergamino, Argentina) generously donated rhizobial inoculants. We are grateful to Dr. Milena M. Manzur, the editor and three anonymous reviewers whose constructive comments on earlier versions improved the manuscript. P. G. P and M. D. are supported by postdoctoral fellowships from the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET - Argentina). The study was supported by University of Buenos Aires, grants from ANPCyT (PICT 1525) and an international project cooperation from MINCyT (AL-1205, Argentina) - BMBF (01DN13006, Germany).
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