OJE  Vol.4 No.6 , May 2014
Testing the Effect of Soil Heterogeneity on Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Fungi (AMF) Contribution to Plant Productivity
Abstract: Most natural soils are heterogeneous and nutrient availability and soil structure change greatly over small distances. It is still unclear whether AMF are advantageous for plants under such heterogeneous soil conditions. The objective of this study was to determine whether diverse AMF community support host plant community productivity in heterogeneous soil. It was also tested whether soil heterogeneity affects plant productivity. This was carried out in a greenhouse experiment made up of two factors: soil heterogeneity and AMF richness. Soil heterogeneity was simulated by mixing three soil types (sand, field soil and organic soil) together (homogenous soil (HM)), mixing them partly (semi homogenous (SH)) or keeping the three soil types separate in three compartments within one pot (heterogeneous (HT)). AMF richness was simulated by adding no AMF, one of four different AMF species separately, or all four different AMF together. The pots were planted with a mixture of Trifolium pratense and Lolium multiflorum. There was no effect of soil heterogeneity on total plant biomass. However, the biomass of the individual plant species was greatly affected by soil heterogeneity with Lolium being the most abundant in the heterogeneous soil and Trifolium being the most abundant in the homogenous soil. Total plant biomass did not increase with AMF richness. Moreover, opposite to the hypothesis, AMF richness was not beneficial for plant productivity in a heterogenous soil environment. However, there were significant differences in plant biomass with different AMF treatments in the SH and HT treatment indicating that effects of AMF on plant productivity are influenced by soil type. These effects on yield and AMF reflect a combination of local responses to growing conditions. The results show that AMF influence on plant yield may not always be positive but is strongly dependent on ecological elasticity and environmental condition.
Cite this paper: Ayesu, S. and Gyabaah, G. (2014) Testing the Effect of Soil Heterogeneity on Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Fungi (AMF) Contribution to Plant Productivity. Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 299-310. doi: 10.4236/oje.2014.46028.

[1]   van der Heijden, M.G.A., Klironomos, J.N., Ursic, M., Moutoglis, P., Streitwolf-Engel, R., Boller, T., et al. (1998) Mycorrhizal Fungal Diversity Determines Plant Biodiversity, Ecosystem Variability and Productivity. Nature, 396, 69-72.

[2]   Ryel, R.J. and Caldwell, M.M. (1998) Nutrient Acquisition from Soils with Patchy Nutrient Distribution as Assessed with Simulation Models. Ecology, 79, 2735-2744.[2735:NAFSWP]2.0.CO;2

[3]   Read, J. and Perez-Moreno, J. (2003) Mycorrhizas and Nutrient Cycling in Ecosystems—A Journey towards Relevance? New Phytologist, 157, 475-492.

[4]   Eom, A., Hartnett, D.C. and Wilson, G.W.T. (2000) Host Plant Species Effects on Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Communities in Tallgrass Prairie. Oecologia, 122, 435-444.

[5]   van der Heijden, M.G.A., Bardgett, R.D. and Nico, M.V.S. (2008) The Unseen Majority: Soil Microbes as Drivers of Plant Diversity and Productivity in Terrestrial Ecosystems.

[6]   van der Heijden, M.G.A., Streitwolf-Engel, R., Riedl, R., Siegrist, S., Neudecker A., Ineichen K., et al. (2006b) The Mycorrhizal Contribution to Plant Productivity, Plant Nutrition and Soil Structure in Experimental Grassland. New Phytologist, 172, 739-752.

[7]   Oehl, F., Sieverding, E., Ineichen, K., Mader, P., Boller, T. and Wiemken, A. (2003) Impact of Land Use Intensity on the Species Diversity of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi in Agroecosystems of Central Europe. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 69, 2816-2824.

[8]   Uhlmann, E., Gorke, C., Petersen, A. and Oberwinkler, F. (2004) Arbuscular Mycorrhizae from Semiarid Regions of Namibia. Canadian Journal of Botany, 82, 645-653.

[9]   Landis, F.C., Gargas, A. and Givnish, T.J. (2004) Relationships among Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, Vascular Plants and Environmental Conditions in Oak Savannas. New Phytologist, 164, 493-504.

[10]   Smith, S.E. and Read, D.J. (2008) Mycorrhizal SYMBIOSIS. 3rd Editon, Academic Press, London.

[11]   Bashan, Y., Khaosaad, T., Salazar, B.G., Ocampo, J.A., Wiemken, A., Oehl, F. and Vierheilig, H. (2007) Mycorrhizal Characterization of the Boojum Tree, Fouquieria columnaris, an Endemic Ancient Tree from the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. Trees, 21, 329-335.

[12]   Oehl, E.L., Bogenrieder, A., Stahr, K., Bosch, R., van der Heijden, M., et al. (2010) Soil Type and Landuse Intensity Determine the Composition of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Communities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 42, 724738.

[13]   McGonigle, T.P. and Fitter, A.H. (1990) Ecological Specificity of VAM Associations. Mycological Research, 94, 120-122.

[14]   Du, F.Yu, Alpert, P. and Dong, M. (2009) Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Reduce Effects of Physiological Integration in Trifolium repens. Annals of Botany, 104, 335-343.

[15]   Fransen, B. and de Kroon, H. (2001) Long-Term Disadvantages of Selective Root Placement: Root Proliferation and Shoot Biomass of Two Perennial Grass Species in a 2-Year Experiment. Journal of Ecology, 89, 711-722.

[16]   Facelli, E. and Facelli, J.M. (2002) Soil Phosphorus Heterogeneity and Mycorrhizal Symbiosis Regulate Plant IntraSpecific Competition and Size Distribution. Oecologia, 133, 54-61.

[17]   Wijesinghe, D.K., John, E.A. and Hutchings, M.J. (2005) Does Pattern of Soil Resource Heterogeneity Determine Plant Community Structure? An Experimental Investigation. Journal of Ecology, 93, 99-112.

[18]   Jansa, J., Mozafar, A., Kuhn, G., Anken, T., Ruh, R., Sanders, I.R., et al. (2003) Soil Tillage Affects the Community Structure of Mycorrhizal Fungi in Maize Roots. Ecological Applications, 13, 1164-1176.[1164:STATCS]2.0.CO;2

[19]   Oehl, F., Sieverding, E., Ineichen, K., Ris, E.A., Boller, T. and Wiemken, A. (2005) Community Structure of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi at Different Soil Depths in Extensively and Intensively Managed Agroecosystems. New Phytologist, 165, 273-283.

[20]   Hutchings, M.J. and Wijesinghe, D.K. (2008) Performance of a Clonal Species in Patchy Environments: Effects of Environmental Context on Yield at Local and Whole-Plant Scales. Evolutionary Ecology, 22, 313-324.

[21]   Nyfeler, D., Huguenin-Elie, O., Suter, M., Frossard, E., Connolly, J. and Lüscher, A. (2009) Strong Mixture Effects among Four Species in Fertilized Agricultural Grassland Led to Persistent and Consistent Transgressive Overyielding. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 683-691.

[22]   Jansa, J., Mozafar, A., Anken, T., Ruh, R., Sanders, I. and Frossard, E. (2002) Diversity and Structure of AMF Communities as Affected by Tillage in a Temperate Soil. Mycorrhiza, 12, 225-234.

[23]   Gamper, H.A., Walker, C. and Schüssler, A. (2009) Diversispora celata sp. Nov: Molecular Ecology and Phylotaxonomy of an Inconspicuous Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus. New Phytologist, 182, 495-506.

[24]   Hoagland, D.R. and Arnon, D.J. (1950) The Water-Culture Method for Growing Plants without Soil. Circular, California Agricultural Experiment Station, 347, 32.

[25]   Vierheilig, A.P., Coughlan, Wyss, U. and Piché, Y. (1998) Ink and Vinegar, a Simple Staining Technique for Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 64, 5004-5007.

[26]   McGonigle, T.P., Miller, M.H., Evans, D.G., Fairchild, G.L. and Swan, J.A. (1990) A New Method Which Gives an Objective Measure of Colonization of Roots by Vesicular-Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi. New Phytologist, 115, 495-501.

[27]   Einsmann, J.C., Jones, R.H., Pu, M. and Mitchell, R.J. (1999) Nutrient Foraging Traits in Ten Co-Occurring Plant Species of Contrasting Life Forms. Journal of Ecology, 87, 609-619.

[28]   Hodge, A. (2004) Plastic Plants and Patchy Soils. Journal of Experimental Botany, 57, 401-411.

[29]   Wang, L., Mou, P.P. and Jones, R.H. (2006) Nutrient Foraging via Physiological and Morphological Plasticity in Three Plant Species. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 36, 164-173.

[30]   Johnson, N.C., Graham, J.H. and Smith, F.A. (1997) Functioning of Mycorrhizal Associations along the MutualismParasitism Continuum. New Phytologist, 135, 575-585.

[31]   Zhang, Y., Zhou, Z., Ma, X. and Jin, G. (2010) Foraging Ability and Growth Performance of Four Subtropical Tree Species in Response to Heterogeneous Nutrient Environment. Journal of Forest Research, 15, 91-98.

[32]   Slade, A.J. and Hutchings, M.J. (1987) Clonal Integration and Plasticity in Foraging Behaviour in Glechoma hederacea. Journal of Ecology, 75, 1023-1036.

[33]   Oborny, B. (1994) Growth Rules in Clonal Plants and Environmental Predictability—A Simulation Study. Journal of Ecology, 82, 341-351.

[34]   Wijesinghe, D.K. and Hutchings, M.J. (1997) The Effects of Spatial Scale of Environmental Heterogeneity on the Growth of a Clonal Plant: An Experimental Study with Glechoma hederacea. Journal of Ecology, 85, 17-28.

[35]   Ackerly, D. (1997) Allocation, Leaf Display, and Growth in Fluctuating Light Environments. In: Bazzaz, F.A. and Grace, J., Eds., Plant Resource Allocation, Academic Press, San Diego, 231-264.

[36]   Hutchings, M.J. and John, E.A. (2004) The Effects of Environmental Heterogeneity on Root Growth and Root/Shoot Partitioning. Annals of Botany, 94, 1-8.

[37]   Verbruggen, E., Roling, W.F.M., Gamper, H.A., Kowalchuk, G.A., Verhoef, H.A. and van der Heijden, M.G.A. (2010) Positive Effects of Organic Farming on Below-Ground Mutualists: Large-Scale Comparison of Mycorrhizal Fungal Communities in Agricultural Soils. New Phytologist, 186, 968-979.

[38]   Kiers, E.T. and van der Heijden, M.G.A. (2006) Mutualistic Stability in the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis: Exploring Hypotheses of Evolutionary Cooperation. Ecology, 87, 1627-1636.[1627:MSITAM]2.0.CO;2

[39]   Smith, F.A., Grace, E.J. and Smith, S.E. (2009) More Than a Carbon Economy: Nutrient Trade and Ecological Sustainability in Facultative Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbioses. New Phytologist, 182, 347-358.

[40]   Collins, C.D. and Foster, B.L. (2009) Community-Level Consequences of Mycorrhizae Depend on Phosphorus Availability. Ecology, 90, 2567-2576.