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Naturally Occurring Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Can Replace Direct P Uptake By Wheat When Roots Cannot Access Added P Fertiliser

Huiying Li, Sally E. Smith, Kathy Ophel-Keller, Robert E. Holloway, F. Andrew Smith

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We investigated the roles of naturally occurring arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in phosphorus (P) uptake by wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in a calcareous, P-fixing soil. Plants grew in a main pot containing autoclaved soil (NM) or autoclaved soil mixed with non-autoclaved soil (to provide inoculum of naturally occurring AM fungi; AM). Granular (GP; monoammonium phosphate) or fluid (FP; ammonium polyphosphate) fertilisers were applied in small compartments (PCs) within a main pot, to which either roots plus hyphae (–Mesh) or hyphae only (+Mesh) had access. Controls received no additional P (NP). Inoculated plants were well colonised by AM fungi. AM growth depressions were observed in –Mesh treatments with NP and GP, but not with FP. Neither AM growth nor P responses were observed in +Mesh treatments. AM plants had much higher P uptake than NM plants, regardless of the P and mesh treatments. Total P uptake by NM plants increased with FP in –Mesh, but was unaffected by either form of P in the +Mesh treatments. Total P uptake by AM plants was similar between –Mesh and +Mesh treatments, regardless of applied P, showing that roots plus hyphae and hyphae alone have the same ability to obtain P. Thus, hyphae can take over the roles of roots in P uptake when roots are not able to access P sources.