Mycorrhizal Species Differentially Alter Plant Growth and Response to Herbivory
Bennett, Alison E.
Bever, James D.
Scholarly/refereed, publisher version
Copyright by the Ecological Society of America
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Plants simultaneously interact with multiple organisms which can both positively and negatively affect their growth. Herbivores can reduce plant growth through loss of plant biomass and photosynthetic area, while plant mutualists, such as mycorrhizal fungi, can increase plant growth through uptake of essential nutrients. This is the first study examining whether species-specific associations with mycorrhizal fungi alter plant tolerance to herbivory. We grew Plantago lanceolata plants with three species of mycorrhizal fungi previously shown to have differential impacts on plant growth and subjected them to herbivory by the specialist lepidopteran herbivore, Junonia coenia. Association with mycorrhizal fungus Glomus white provided the greatest growth benefit but did not alter plant response to herbivory. Alternatively, association with Archaeospora trappei provided less growth promotion but did lead to tolerance to herbivory in the form of an increased growth rate. Finally, an association with the fungus Scutellospora calospora led to neither plant growth promotion nor tolerance to herbivory. In fact, an association with S. calospora appeared to reduce plant tolerance to herbivory. An association with all three species of mycorrhizae resulted in a pattern of growth similar to that of plants grown only with Glomus white, suggesting that growth promotion by multiple mycorrhizal species is driven by the inclusion of a “super fungus,” in this case, Glomus white. This work illustrates that plant response to herbivory depends upon the mycorrhizal fungal mutualist with which a plant is associated.
Bennett, A. E. and Bever, J. D. (2007), Mycorrhizal Species Differentially Alter Plant Growth and Response to Herbivory. Ecology, 88: 210–218. doi:10.1890/0012-9658(2007)88[210:MSDAPG]2.0.CO;2
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