Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Growth, nutrition, and soil respiration of a mycorrhiza-defective tomato mutant and its mycorrhizal wild-type progenitor

Timothy R. Cavagnaro A E , Adam J. Langley B , Louise E. Jackson C , Sean M. Smukler C and George W. Koch D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological Sciences and Australian Centre for Biodiversity, Monash University, Clayton, Vic. 3800, Australia.

B Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, Edgewater, MD 21037, USA.

C Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-8627, USA.

D National Institute for Climatic Change Research, Box 5640, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA.

E Corresponding author. Email: tim.cavagnaro@sci.monash.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 35(3) 228-235 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP07281
Submitted: 26 November 2007  Accepted: 13 March 2008   Published: 23 April 2008

Abstract

The effects of colonisation of roots by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on soil respiration, plant growth, nutrition, and soil microbial communities were assessed using a mycorrhiza-defective tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) mutant and its mycorrhizal wild-type progenitor. Plants were grown in rhizocosms in an automated respiration monitoring system over the course of the experiment (79 days). Soil respiration was similar in the two tomato genotypes, and between P treatments with plants. Mycorrhizal colonisation increased P and Zn content and decreased root biomass, but did not affect aboveground plant biomass. Soil microbial biomass C and soil microbial communities based on phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis were similar across all treatments, suggesting that the two genotypes differed little in their effect on soil activity. Although approximately similar amounts of C may have been expended belowground in both genotypes, they may have differed in the relative C allocation to root construction v. respiration. Further, net soil respiration did not differ between the two tomato genotypes, but root dry weight was lower in mycorrhizal roots, and respiration of mycorrhizal roots per unit dry weight was higher than nonmycorrhizal roots. This indicates that the AM contribution to soil respiration may indeed be significant, and nutrient uptake per unit C expenditure belowground in this experiment appeared to be higher in mycorrhizal plants.

Additional keywords: mycorrhiza mutant, mycorrhizas, PLFA, respiration, roots, root respiration, Solanum lycopersicum.


Acknowledgements

We are especially grateful to Sally Smith (University of Adelaide) and Susan Barker (University of Western Australia), for allowing our continued use of the rmc tomato mutant/wild-type system. We also thank Katherine Sides (NAU) for her excellent technical assistance and that from various members of the Jackson Laboratory (UC Davis). Thanks also to Kate Scow for PLFA extraction and identification at UC Davis. The efforts of two anonymous reviewers are also appreciated. The research was funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture Speciality Crops Program (SA6674), the United States Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative Soils and Soil Biology Program (2004–03329) and a National Science Foundation grant to Nancy Johnson and George Koch (DEB:9806529).


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