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New Phytol. 2006;172(3):536-43.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi contribute to phosphorus uptake by wheat grown in a phosphorus-fixing soil even in the absence of positive growth responses.

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Centre for Soil-Plant Interactions, Soil and Land Systems, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Waite Campus, DP636, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, 5005, Australia.


We used 32P to quantify the contribution of an arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus (Glomus intraradices) to phosphorus (P) uptake by wheat (Triticum aestivum), grown in compartmented pots. The soil was from a major cereal-growing area, the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia; it was highly calcareous and P-fixing. Fertilizer P was added to soil at 20 mg kg(-1), as solid or liquid. Two extraction methods were used to estimate plant-available P. Fungal colonization was well established at harvest (36 d). Application of P decreased both colonization and hyphal length density in soil, with small differences between different P fertilizers. Plants showed large positive responses in terms of growth or total P uptake to all P additions, and showed no positive (or even negative) responses to AM colonization, regardless of P application. 32P was detected only in AM plants, and we calculated that over 50% of P uptake by plants was absorbed via AM fungi, even when P was added. The results add to the growing body of knowledge that 'nonresponsive' AM plants have a functional AM pathway for P transfer to the plant; it should not be ignored in breeding plants for root traits designed to improve P uptake.

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