Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
It is currently accepted that, along with nutrients, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi also transport water to their host plant. However, the quantity of water supplied and its significance for plant water relations remain controversial. The objective of this work was to evaluate and compare the ability of six AM fungi to alter rates of root water uptake under drought stress conditions. Soil drying rates of uninoculated control plants of comparable size and nutritional status and mycorrhizal plants were recorded daily. Lactuca sativa plants colonized by Glomus coronatum, G. intraradices, G. claroideum and G. mosseae depleted soil water to a higher extent than comparably sized uninoculated control plants or plants colonized by G. constrictum or G. geosporum. The differences ranged from 0.6% volumetric soil moisture for G. mosseae-colonized plants to 0.95% volumetric soil moisture for G. intraradices-colonized plants. These differences in soil moisture were equivalent to 3–4.75 ml plant−1 day−1, respectively, and could not be ascribed to differences in plant size, but to the activity of AM fungi. The AM fungi tested in this study differed in their effectiveness to enhance plant water uptake from soil. This ability seems to be related to the amount of external mycelium produced by each AM fungus and to the frequency of root colonization in terms of live and active fungal structures.
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