Plant and Soil

, Volume 254, Issue 2, pp 383–391

Arbuscular mycorrhizae respond to plants exposed to elevated atmospheric CO2 as a function of soil depth



The importance of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) in plant and ecosystem responses to global changes, e.g. elevated atmospheric CO2, is widely acknowledged. Frequently, increases in AM root colonization occur in response to increased CO2, but also the lack of significant changes has been reported. The goal of this study was to test whether arbuscular mycorrhizae (root colonization and composition of root colonization) respond to plants grown in elevated CO2 as a function of soil depth. We grew Bromus hordeaceus L. and Lotus wrangelianus Fischer & C. Meyer monocultures in large pots with a synthetic serpentine soil profile for 4 yr in an experiment, in which CO2 concentration was crossed factorially with NPK fertilization. When analyzing root infection separately for topsoil (0–15 cm) and subsoil (15–45 cm), we found large (e.g., about 5-fold) increases of AM fungal root colonization in the subsoil in response to CO2, but no significant changes in the corresponding topsoil of Bromus. Only the coarse endophyte AM fungi, not the fine endophyte AM fungi, were responsible for the observed increase in the bottom soil layer, indicating a depth-dependent shift in the AM community colonizing the roots, even at this coarse morphological level. Other response variables also had significant soil layer * CO2 interaction terms. The subsoil response would have been hidden in an unstratified assessment of the total root system, since most of the root length was concentrated in the top soil layer. The increased presence of mycorrhizae in roots deeper in the soil should be considered in sampling protocols, as it may be indicative of changed patterns of nutrient acquisition and carbon sequestration.

Bromus fine endophyte grassland Lotus roots soil carbon 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Microbial Ecology Program, Division of Biological SciencesThe University of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Global EcologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA

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