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Journal Article

Interspecific Variation in Plant Responses to Mycorrhizal Colonization in Tallgrass Prairie

Gail W. T. Wilson and David C. Hartnett
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 85, No. 12 (Dec., 1998), pp. 1732-1738
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2446507
Page Count: 7

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Topics: Plants, Forbs, Plant roots, Species, Grasses, Prairies, Prairie soils, Symbiosis, Soil treatment, Fungi
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Interspecific Variation in Plant Responses to Mycorrhizal Colonization in Tallgrass Prairie
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Abstract

Symbiotic associations between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are ubiquitous and ecologically important in many grasslands. Differences in species responses to mycorrhizal colonization can have a significant influence on plant community structure. The growth responses of 36 species of warm- and cool-season tallgrass prairie grasses and 59 tallgrass prairie forbs to arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal colonization were assessed in greenhouse studies to examine the extent of interspecific variation in host-plant benefit from the symbiosis and patterns of mycorrhizal dependence among host plant life history (e.g., annual, perennial) and taxonomic (e g., grass, forb, legume, nonlegume) groups and phenological guilds. There was a strong and significant relationship between phenology of prairie grasses and mycorrhizal responsiveness, however this relationship was less apparent in forbs. Perennial warm-season C4 grasses and forbs generally benefited significantly from the mycorrhizal symbiosis, whereas biomass production of the cool-season C3 grasses was not affected. The root systems of the cool-season grasses were also less highly colonized by the AM fungi, as compared to the warm-season grasses or forbs. Unlike the native perennials, annuals were generally not responsive to mycorrhizal colonization and were lower in percentage root colonization than the perennial species. Plant growth responsiveness and AM root colonization were positively correlated for the nonleguminous species, with this relationship being strongest for the cool-season grasses. In contrast, root colonization of prairie legumes showed a significant, but negative, relationship to mycorrhizal growth responsiveness.

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