Mycorrhizal Networks : Common Goods of Plants Shared under Unequal Terms of Trade

Walder, F. and Niemann, H. and Natarajan, M. and Lehmann, M. F. and Boller, T. and Wiemken, A.. (2012) Mycorrhizal Networks : Common Goods of Plants Shared under Unequal Terms of Trade. Plant physiology, Vol. 159, H. 2. pp. 789-797.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6056149

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Plants commonly live in a symbiotic association with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). They invest photosynthetic products to feed their fungal partners, which, in return, provide mineral nutrients foraged in the soil by their intricate hyphal networks. Intriguingly, AMF can link neighboring plants, forming common mycorrhizal networks (CMNs). What are the terms of trade in such CMNs between plants and their shared fungal partners? To address this question, we set up microcosms containing a pair of test plants, interlinked by a CMN of Glomus intraradices or Glomus mosseae. The plants were flax (Linum usitatissimum; a C3 plant) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor; a C4 plant), which display distinctly different 13C/12C isotope compositions. This allowed us to differentially assess the carbon investment of the two plants into the CMN through stable isotope tracing. In parallel, we determined the plants’ “return of investment” (i.e. the acquisition of nutrients via CMN) using 15N and 33P as tracers. Depending on the AMF species, we found a strong asymmetry in the terms of trade: flax invested little carbon but gained up to 94% of the nitrogen and phosphorus provided by the CMN, which highly facilitated growth, whereas the neighboring sorghum invested massive amounts of carbon with little return but was barely affected in growth. Overall biomass production in the mixed culture surpassed the mean of the two monocultures. Thus, CMNs may contribute to interplant facilitation and the productivity boosts often found with intercropping compared with conventional monocropping.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenphysiologie Pathogenabwehr (Boller)
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Aquatic and Isotope Biogeochemistry (Lehmann)
UniBasel Contributors:Lehmann, Moritz F and Boller, Thomas and Walder, Florian and Niemann, Helge and Wiemken, Andres M. and Natarajan, Mathimaran
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:American Society of Plant Biologists
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:01 Feb 2013 08:46
Deposited On:01 Feb 2013 08:41

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