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Mycorrhiza Does Not Alter Low Temperature Impact on Gnaphalium norvegicum

Anna Liisa Ruotsalainen and Minna-Maarit Kytöviita
Oecologia
Vol. 140, No. 2 (Jul., 2004), pp. 226-233
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40005658
Page Count: 8
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Mycorrhiza Does Not Alter Low Temperature Impact on Gnaphalium norvegicum
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Abstract

Extreme arctic-alpine vegetation has relatively low affinity to form mycorrhizal symbiosis. We asked whether the mycorrhizal growth benefit for the host plant is lower at low temperatures. We investigated the role of two root-associated fungi and temperature in growth, carbon-nitrogen relations and germination of an arctic-alpine herb. Seeds of Gnaphalium norvegicum were germinated at 8degrees or 15degrees C with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM, Glomus claroideum) and dark septate endophytic (DSE, Phialocephala fortinii) inocula in a climate chamber. We found that germination percentage, shoot and root biomass, shoot N% and root AM colonization were lower at 8degrees C than at 15degrees C. P. fortinii inoculation had a positive impact on germination at both temperatures, whereas G. claroideum produced no effect. N% was lower in AM plants at both temperatures. Plant biomass and shoot N content were higher in AM plants than in control plants at 15degrees C, but not at 8degrees C. DSE inoculation tended also to have positive effects on plant biomass and N content at 15degrees C. At 15degrees C, rate of photosynthesis, photosynthetic nutrient use efficiency and specific leaf area were positively affected by G. claroideum, which suggests that G. claroideum formed a carbon sink and possibly enhanced the seedling water economy. The positive effects of P. fortinii were probably due to its saprotrophic function in the substrate because it did not colonize the roots. These results suggest that the effects of AM and DSE on plant growth are affected by temperature and that the mycorrhizal benefit for the host plant was lower at the lower temperature. Low saprotrophic activity and decreased mycorrhiza-mediated nutrient acquisition may thus constrain plant nutrient acquisition in cold environments. Decreased mycorrhizal benefit may be related to the comparatively low mycotrophy of cold environment vegetation.

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