Interactive effects of juvenile defoliation, light conditions, and interspecific competition on growth and ectomycorrhizal colonization of Fagus sylvatica and Pinus sylvestris seedlings

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Abstract

© 2015, The Author(s).Seedlings of forest tree species are exposed to a number of abiotic (organ loss or damage, light shortage) and biotic (interspecific competition) stress factors, which may lead to an inhibition of growth and reproduction and, eventually, to plant death. Growth of the host and its mycorrhizal symbiont is often closely linked, and hence, host damage may negatively affect the symbiont. We designed a pot experiment to study the response of light-demanding Pinus sylvestris and shade-tolerant Fagus sylvatica seedlings to a set of abiotic and biotic stresses and subsequent effects on ectomycorrhizal (ECM) root tip colonization, seedling biomass, and leaf nitrogen content. The light regime had a more pronounced effect on ECM colonization than did juvenile damage. The interspecific competition resulted in higher ECM root tip abundance for Pinus, but this effect was insignificant in Fagus. Low light and interspecific competition resulted in lower seedling biomass compared to high light, and the effect of the latter was partially masked by high light. Leaf nitrogen responded differently in Fagus and Pinus when they grew in interspecific competition. Our results indicated that for both light-demanding (Pinus) and shade-tolerant (Fagus) species, the light environment was a major factor affecting seedling growth and ECM root tip abundance. The light conditions favorable for the growth of seedlings may to some extent compensate for the harmful effects of juvenile organ loss or damage and interspecific competition.

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Trocha, L. K., Weiser, E., & Robakowski, P. (2016). Interactive effects of juvenile defoliation, light conditions, and interspecific competition on growth and ectomycorrhizal colonization of Fagus sylvatica and Pinus sylvestris seedlings. Mycorrhiza, 26(1), 47–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00572-015-0645-4

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