Early responses of wild plant seedlings to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and pathogens

Del Fabbro, Corina; Prati, Daniel (2014). Early responses of wild plant seedlings to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and pathogens. Basic and applied ecology, 15(6), 534 - 542. Elsevier 10.1016/j.baae.2014.08.004

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Abstract Many plants form associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) because they profit from improved phosphorus nutrition and from protection against pathogens. Whereas mycorrhiza-induced pathogen protection is well understood in agricultural plant species, it is rarely studied in wild plants. As many pathogens infest plants in the first days after germination, mycorrhiza-induced pathogen protection may be especially important in the first few weeks of plant establishment. Here, we investigated interacting effects of {AMF} and the seedling pathogen Pythium ultimum on the performance of six- to seven-week-old seedlings of six wild plant species of the family Asteraceae in a full factorial experiment. Plant species differed in their response to AMF, the pathogen and their interactions. {AMF} increased and the pathogen decreased plant biomass in one and three species, respectively. Two plant species were negatively affected by {AMF} in the absence, but positively or not affected in the presence of the pathogen, indicating protection by AMF. This mycorrhiza-induced pathogen protection is especially surprising as we could not detect mycorrhizal structure in the roots of any of the plants. Our results show that even seedlings without established intraradical hyphal network can profit from AMF, both in terms of growth promotion in the absence of a pathogen and pathogen protection. The function of {AMF} is highly species-specific, but tends to be similar for more closely related plant species, suggesting a phylogenetic component of mycorrhizal function. Further studies should test a wider range of plant species, as our study was restricted to one plant family, and investigate whether plants profit from early mycorrhizal benefits in the long term.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Del Fabbro, Corina and Prati, Daniel


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)








Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

17 Nov 2014 14:12

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2015 11:32

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

AMF, Arbuscular mycorrhiza, Conyza, Interacting effects, Inula, Mycorrhizal function, Protection, Pathogen, Pythium ultimum, Senecio, Solidago





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