Plant and Soil

, Volume 244, Issue 1–2, pp 281–290 | Cite as

Host-specificity of AM fungal population growth rates can generate feedback on plant growth

  • James D. Bever


While the mutualistic interaction between plants and AM fungi is of obvious importance to ecosystem processes, the factors influencing the ecological and evolutionary dynamics within this interaction are poorly understood. The mutual interdependence of plant and AM fungal relative growth rates could generate complex dynamics in which the composition of the AM fungal community changes due to association with host and this change in fungal composition then differentially feeds back on plant growth. I first review evidence for feedback dynamics and then present an approach to evaluating such complex dynamics. I specifically present evidence of host-specific differences in the population growth rates of AM fungi. Pure cultures of AM fungi were mixed to produce the initial fungal community. This community was then distributed into replicate pots and grown with one of four co-occurring plant species. Distinct compositions of AM fungal spores were produced on different host species. The AM fungal communities were then inoculated back onto their own host species and grown for a second growing season. The differentiation observed in the first generation was enhanced during this second generation, verifying that the measure of spore composition reflects host-specific differences in AM fungal population growth rates. In further work on this system, I have found evidence of negative feedback through two pairs of plant species. The dynamic within the AM fungal community can thereby contribute to the coexistence of plant species.

arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi community dynamics feedback host-specificity population growth rates 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adjoud D, Plenchette C, Halli-Hargas R and Lapeyrie F 1996 Response of 11 eucalyptus species to inoculation with three arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhiza 6, 129-135.Google Scholar
  2. Agrios G N 1997 Plant Pathology. 635 pp. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  3. Allen M F and Allen E B 1990 The mediation of competition by mycorrhizae in successional and patchy environments. In Perspectives on Plant Competition. Ed. J B Grace and D Tilman. pp. 367-389. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Augspurger C K and Kelley C K 1984 Seedling survival among tropical tree species: interactions of dispersal distance, light-gaps and pathogens. Ecology 65, 1705-1712.Google Scholar
  5. Bever J D 1994 Feedback between plants and their soil communities in an old field community. Ecology 75, 1965-1977.Google Scholar
  6. Bever J D 1999 Dynamics within mutualism and the maintenance of diversity: inference from a model of interguild frequency dependence. Ecol. Lett. 2, 52-61.Google Scholar
  7. Bever J D, Morton J B, Antonovics J and Schultz P A 1996 Host-dependent sporulation and species diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a mown grassland. J. Ecol. 84, 71-82.Google Scholar
  8. Bever J D, Westover K M and Antonovics J 1997 Incorporating the soil community into plant population dynamics: the utility of the feedback approach. J. Ecol. 85, 561-573.Google Scholar
  9. Bever J D, Schultz P A, Pringle A and Morton J B 2001 Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: more diverse than meets the eye, and the ecological tale of why. Bioscience. 51, 923-931.Google Scholar
  10. Bever J D, Pringle A and Schultz P A in press Dynamics within the plant-AM fungal mutualism: testing the nature of community feedback. In Ecology of Mycorrhizae. Eds. MGA Van der Heijden and IR Sanders. Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  11. Clay K and Holah J 1999 Fungal endophyte symbiosis and plant diversity in successional fields. Science 285, 1742-1744.Google Scholar
  12. Eom A-H, Hartnett D C and Wilson G W T 2000 Host plant species effects on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in tallgrass prairie. Oecologia 122, 435-444.Google Scholar
  13. Grime J P, Macky J M, Hillier S H and Read D J 1987 Mechanisms of floristic diversity: evidence from microcosms. Nature 328, 420-422.Google Scholar
  14. Hartnett D C and Wilson G W T 1999 Mycorrhizae influence plant community structure in tallgrass prairie. Ecology 80, 1187-1195.Google Scholar
  15. Hartnett D C, Hetrick B A D, Wilson G W T and Gibson D J 1993 Mycorrhizal influence on intra-and inter-specific neighbour interactions among co-occurring prairie grasses. J. Ecol. 81, 787-795.Google Scholar
  16. Hoeksema J D 1999 Investigating the disparity in host specificity between AM and EM fungi: lessons from theory and betterstudied systems. Oikos 84, 327-332.Google Scholar
  17. Janos D P 1980 Mycorrhizae influence tropical succession. Biotropica 12S, 56-64.Google Scholar
  18. Johnson N C, Pfleger F L, Crookston R K, Simmons S R and Copeland P J 1991 Vesicular arbuscular mycorrihizas respond to corn and soybean cropping history. New Phytol. 117, 657-663.Google Scholar
  19. Johnson N C, Copeland P J, Crookston R K and Pfleger F L 1992a Mycorrhizae-possible explanation for the yield decline with continuous corn and soybean. Agron. J. 84, 387-390.Google Scholar
  20. Johnson N C, Tilman D and Wedin D 1992b Plant and soil controls on mycorrihizal fungal communities. Ecology 73, 2034-2042.Google Scholar
  21. Kiers E T, Lovelock C E, Krueger E L and Herre E A 2000 Differential effects of tropical arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inocula on root colonization and tree seedling growth: implications for tropical forest diversity. Ecol. Lett. 3, 106-113.Google Scholar
  22. Law R 1985 Evolution in a mutualistic environment. In The Biology of Mutualism. Ed. D H Boucher. pp. 145-170. Croom Helm, London.Google Scholar
  23. Medve R J 1984 The mycorrhizae of pioneer species in disturbed ecosystems in western Pennsylvania. Am. J. Bot. 71, 787-794.Google Scholar
  24. Miller M A and Jastrow J D 2000 Mycorrhizal fungi influence soil structure. In Arbuscular Mycorrhizas: Molecular Biology and Physiology. Ed. D D Douds. Kluwer Academic Press, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  25. Mills K E and Bever J D 1998 Maintenance of diversity within plant communities: soil pathogens as agents of negative feedback. Ecology 79, 1595-1601.Google Scholar
  26. Packer A and Clay K 2000 Soil pathogens and spatial patterns of seedling mortality in a temperate tree. Nature 404, 278-281.Google Scholar
  27. Pringle A 2001 Ecology and Genetics of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi. 330 pp. Duke University, Durham, NC.Google Scholar
  28. Sanders I R and Fitter A H 1992 Evidence for differential responses between host-fungus combinations of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrihizas from a grassland. Mycol. Res. 96, 415-419.Google Scholar
  29. SAS 1990 SAS/STAT User's Guide. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC. 1686 pp.Google Scholar
  30. Schultz P A 1996 Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Species Diversity and Distribution in an Old Field Community. Duke University, Durham, NC.Google Scholar
  31. Schultz P A, Bever J D and Morton J B 1999 Acaulospora colossica sp. nov. from an old field in North Carolina and morphological comparisons with similar species, A. laevis and A. koskei. Mycologia 91, 676-683.Google Scholar
  32. Smith S E and Read D J 1997 Mycorrhizal Symbiosis. 605 pp. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  33. Sokal R R and Rohlf F J 1995 Biometry. 887 pp. W. H. Freeman, New York.Google Scholar
  34. Streitwolf-Engel R, Boller T, Wiemken A and Sanders I R 1997 Clonal growth traits of two Prunella species are determined by co-occurring arbuscular mycorihizal fungi form a calcareous grassland. J. Ecol. 85, 181-191.Google Scholar
  35. Van der Heijden M G A, Klironomos J N, Ursic M, Moutoglis P, Streitwolf-Engel R, Boller T, Wiemken A and Sanders I R 1998 Mycorrhizal fungal diversity determines plant biodiversity, ecosystem variability and productivity. Nature 396, 69-72.Google Scholar
  36. Van der Putten W H, Van Dijk C and Peters B A M 1993 Plantspecific soil-borne diseases contribute to succession in foredune vegetation. Nature 362, 53-56.Google Scholar
  37. Wardle D A 1999 Is 'sampling effect' a problem for experiments investigating biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships. Oikos 87, 403-407.Google Scholar
  38. Westover K M and Bever J D 2001 Mechanisms of plant species coexistence: complementary roles of rhizosphere bacteria and root fungal pathogens. Ecology 82, 3285-3294.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • James D. Bever
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations