An arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus accelerates decomposition and acquires nitrogen directly from organic material

We show that the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis can both enhance decomposition of and increase nitrogen capture from complex organic material in soil

Angela Hodge; Colin D. Campbell; Alastair H. Fitter

2002

Scholarcy highlights

  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which form mycorrhizal symbioses with two out of three of all plant species, are believed to be obligate biotrophs that are wholly dependent on the plant partner for their carbon supply
  • We show that the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis can both enhance decomposition of and increase nitrogen capture from complex organic material in soil
  • Fungi in the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis promote plant growth principally by increasing uptake of immobile resources, as they can acquire these beyond the depletion zone surrounding a root
  • Where mobile ions such as NO-3 or NH+4 are being produced in decomposing patches of organic material, the ability of the ®ne hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to penetrate into the material and to compete with other microbes could lead to increased N acquisition by the plant
  • We tested the hypothesis that plant N uptake would be increased by giving the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal hyphae access to a decomposing patch of organic matter from which roots were excluded
  • At the ®nal collection roots from two of the plants in the control row had entered the patch by breaking through the adhesive that sealed the barrier between compartments to the box; the mesh was intact in all cases

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