Plant and Soil

, Volume 259, Issue 1–2, pp 9–17 | Cite as

Nutrient addition affects AM fungal performance and expression of plant/fungal feedback in three serpentine grasses

  • Danny J. Gustafson
  • Brenda B. Casper


Plant/soil microbial community feedback can have important consequences for species composition of both the plant and soil microbial communities, however, changes in nutrient availability may alter plant reliance on mycorrhizal fungi. In this research, we tested whether plant/soil community feedback occurs and if increased soil fertility altered the plant/soil community interactions. In two greenhouse experiments we assessed plant and AM fungal performance in response to different soils (and their microbial communities), collected from under three co-occurring plants in serpentine grasslands, and nutrient treatments. The first experiment consisted of two plant species (Andropogon gerardii, Sorghastrum nutans), their soil communities, and three nutrient treatments (control, calcium, N-P-K), while the second experiment used three plant species (first two and Schizachyrium scoparium), their soil communities collected from a different site, and two nutrient treatments (control, N-P-K). Plant/soil community feedback was observed with two of the three species and was significantly affected by nutrient enrichment. Negative Sorghastrum/soil feedback was removed with the addition of N-P-K fertilizer at both sites. Andropogon/soil feedback varied between sites and nutrient treatments, while no differential Schizachyrium growth relative to soil community was observed. Addition of N-P-K fertilizer to the nutrient poor serpentine soils increased plant biomass production and affected plant/soil community interactions. Calcium addition did not affect plant biomass, but was associated with significant increases in fungal colonization regardless of plant species or soil community. Our results indicate that nutrient enrichment affected plant/soil community feedback, which has the potential to affect plant and soil community structure.

arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi biotic soil community negative feedback serpentine grassland species coexistence 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danny J. Gustafson
    • 1
  • Brenda B. Casper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaU.S.A

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