Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi respond to increasing plant diversity

  • Burrows R
  • Pfleger F
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The effect of plant diversity (1, 2, 8, or 16 species) on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) was assessed at the Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research site at East Bethel, Minnesota, from 1997 to 1999. At each of the five samplings, AMF in 16-species plots produced from 30 to 150% more spores and from 40 to 70% greater spore volumes than AMF in one-species plots. Regressions of spore numbers and volumes with percent plant cover, plant di- versity, and soil NO3 as independent variables suggest that midsummer plot soil NO3 was the best single predictor of AMF spore production in these plots. Plant diversity influenced spore volume in four samplings and spore numbers in the first three samplings. Plant cover was predictive of spore volume throughout the experiment but of spore number only in the first year. Sporulation by larger-spored AMF species (Gigaspora spp. and Scutellospora spp.) increased sig- nificantly with increasing plant diversity, while sporulation of the smaller-spored species varied in response to host di- versity. Spore numbers of several AMF species were consistently negatively correlated and none positively correlated with midseason soil NO3 concentrations, demonstrating the adaptation of these AMF species to nitrogen-limited conditions.

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  • Rhoda L Burrows

  • Francis L Pfleger

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