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Physiol Plant. 2009 Aug;136(4):426-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2009.01237.x. Epub 2009 Apr 4.

Ectomycorrhizal fungi enhance nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition of Nothofagus dombeyi under drought conditions by regulating assimilative enzyme activities.

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1
Universidad Austral de Chile, Instituto de Botánica, Valdivia, Chile. malvarez@uni-bremen.de

Abstract

Drought stress conditions (DC) reduce plant growth and nutrition, restraining the sustainable reestablishment of Nothofagus dombeyi in temperate south Chilean forest ecosystems. Ectomycorrhizal symbioses have been documented to enhance plant nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) uptake under drought, but the regulation of involved assimilative enzymes remains unclear. We studied 1-year-old N. dombeyi (Mirb.) Oerst. plants in association with the ectomycorrhizal fungi Pisolithus tinctorius (Pers.) Coker & Couch. and Descolea antartica Sing. In greenhouse experiments, shoot and root dry weights, mycorrhizal colonization, foliar N and P concentrations, and root enzyme activities [glutamate synthase (glutamine oxoglutarate aminotransferase (GOGAT), EC 1.4.1.13-14), glutamine synthetase (GS, EC 6.3.1.2), glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH, EC 1.4.1.2-4), nitrate reductase (NR, EC 1.6.6.1), and acid phosphomonoesterase (PME, EC 3.1.3.1-2)] were determined as a function of soil-water content. Inoculation of N. dombeyi with P. tinctorius and D. antartica significantly stimulated plant growth and increased plant foliar N and P concentrations, especially under DC. Ectomycorrhizal inoculation increased the activity of all studied enzymes relative to non-mycorrhizal plants under drought. We speculate that GDH is a key enzyme involved in the enhancement of ectomycorrhizal carbon (C) availability by fuelling the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle under conditions of drought-induced carbon deficit. All studied assimilative enzymes of the ectomycorrhizal associations, involved in C, N, and P transfers, are closely interlinked and interdependent. The up-regulation of assimilative enzyme activities by ectomycorrhizal fungal root colonizers acts as a functional mechanism to increase seedling endurance to drought. We insist upon incorporating ectomycorrhizal inoculation in existing Chilean afforestation programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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