White clover ( Trifolium repens L.) plants were grown in a calcareous soil in pots with three compartments, a central one for root growth and two outer ones for growth of vesicular-arbuscular (VA) mycorrhizal ( Glomus mosseae [Nicol. & Gerd.] Gerdemann & Trappe) hyphae (hyphal compartments). Phosphorus (P) was applied at three levels (0, 20 and 50 mg kg −1 soil) in the outer compartments in mycorrhizal treatments. Root and shoot dry weight were increased in mycorrhizal plants with hyphal access to outer compartments. Growth of the mycorrhizal hyphae in the outer compartments was not significantly affected by variation in P level in these compartments. However, both concentration and amount of P in roots and shoots sharply increased with increasing P supply in the outer (hyphal) compartments. With increasing P levels the calculated delivery of P by the hyphae from the outer compartments increased from 34% to 90% of total P uptake. Hyphal access to the outer compartments also significantly increased both concentration and quantity of Cu in the plants. The calculated delivery of Cu by the hyphae from the outer compartments ranged from 53% to 62% of total Cu uptake, irrespective of the P levels and the amounts of P taken up and transported by the hyphae. However, the distribution of Cu over roots and shoots was largely dependent on P levels. With increase in P level in the outer compartments the calculated hyphal contribution to the total amount of Cu in the shoots increased from 12% to 58%, but decreased in the roots from 75% to 46%. In conclusion, uptake and transport by VA-mycorrhizal hyphae may contribute substantially not only to P nutrition, but also to Cu nutrition of the host.
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