3 years ago

Mycorrhizal fungi enhance plant nutrient acquisition and modulate nitrogen loss with variable water regimes

Mycorrhizal fungi enhance plant nutrient acquisition and modulate nitrogen loss with variable water regimes
Timothy R. Cavagnaro, Timothy M. Bowles, Louise E. Jackson
Climate change will alter both the amount and pattern of precipitation and soil water availability, which will directly affect plant growth and nutrient acquisition, and potentially, ecosystem functions like nutrient cycling and losses as well. Given their role in facilitating plant nutrient acquisition and water stress resistance, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi may modulate the effects of changing water availability on plants and ecosystem functions. The well-characterized mycorrhizal tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) genotype 76R (referred to as MYC+) and the mutant mycorrhiza-defective tomato genotype rmc were grown in microcosms in a glasshouse experiment manipulating both the pattern and amount of water supply in unsterilized field soil. Following 4 weeks of differing water regimes, we tested how AM fungi affected plant productivity and nutrient acquisition, short-term interception of a 15NH4+ pulse, and inorganic nitrogen (N) leaching from microcosms. AM fungi enhanced plant nutrient acquisition with both lower and more variable water availability, for instance increasing plant P uptake more with a pulsed water supply compared to a regular supply and increasing shoot N concentration more when lower water amounts were applied. Although uptake of the short-term 15NH4+ pulse was higher in rmc plants, possibly due to higher N demand, AM fungi subtly modulated NO3− leaching, decreasing losses by 54% at low and high water levels in the regular water regime, with small absolute amounts of NO3− leached (<1 kg N/ha). Since this study shows that AM fungi will likely be an important moderator of plant and ecosystem responses to adverse effects of more variable precipitation, management strategies that bolster AM fungal communities may in turn create systems that are more resilient to these changes. Given their role in facilitating plant nutrient acquisition and water stress resistance, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi may modulate the effects of changing water availability on plants and ecosystem functions. Following 4 weeks of differing water regimes, we showed that AM fungi modulated plant responses to both the amount and pattern of water availability, for instance increasing plant P uptake more with a pulsed water supply compared to a regular supply and increasing shoot N concentration more when lower water amounts were applied. Although uptake of a short-term 15NH4+ pulse was higher in rmc plants, possibly due to higher N demand, AM fungi decreased NO3− leaching losses by 54% in the regular water regime. This study shows that AM fungi will be an important moderator of plant and ecosystem responses to adverse effects from the more variable precipitation that is expected in some regions in the future.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13884

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