Repository logo

Comparisons between P-fertilized and mycorrhizal plants




Paul, Eldor A., author
Bethlenfalvay, G. J., author
Pacovsky, R. S., author
Crop Science Society of America, publisher

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


In experimentation with vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi, the availability of non-VAM control plants of equal size to VAM plants is a fundamental requirement. The purpose of this work was to determine nutrient regimes needed to achieve growth equivalence between VAM and non-VAM plants. Soybean [Glycine max (L.)Merr.] cv. Amsoy 71 and sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] cv. Bok 8 plants were grown under controlled conditions in a soil (Josephine silty clay loam, mesic Typic Haploxerult) low in plant-available P. Soybeans were inoculated with one of four species and sorghum with one of two species of VAM fungi. Non-inoculated control plants received nutrient solutions that contained 0.0, 0.2, 0.4, or 1.0 mM P. while the growth of P-supplemented controls may be equivalent to VAM plants, an important question remains: Are these plants also equivalent in terms of such functional parameters as leaf development, dry matter partitioning, and nutrient assimilation? The objective of this experiment was to answer these questions. The response to VAM colonization was similar in both hosts, although less extensive colonization was observed in sorghum. Dry weight, leaf area, and P content increased exponentially with nutrient solution P level. Plants colonized with VAM fungi grew 3 to 6 times larger than the P-free controls but attained only 35 to 65% of maximum growth possible with high fertilizer P input. Host response to VAM colonization was equivalent to that of plants receiving between 0.12 and 0.22 mM P for phytomass, leaf area, and N content. Mycorrhizal plants contained less P, Mn, and root Fe but more Zn and Cu than comparable plants fertilized with P. It was concluded that P-treated, non-VAM plants differed physiologically and anatomically from VAM plants of equivalent size grown under P stress. It may therefore be necessary to establish the comparability of VAM plants and of "VAM-equivalent controls" separately for each plant parameter of interest. Even then, differential growth responses in VAM-host associations may prevent complete comparability between VAM and P-fertilized plants.


Rights Access


phosphorus nutrition


Associated Publications