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Nat Commun. 2012 May 15;3:835. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1831.

Contrasting arbuscular mycorrhizal responses of vascular and non-vascular plants to a simulated Palaeozoic CO₂ decline.

Author information

1
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK. k.field@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

The arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal symbiosis is widely hypothesized to have promoted the evolution of land plants from rootless gametophytes to rooted sporophytes during the mid-Palaeozoic (480-360 Myr, ago), at a time coincident with a 90% fall in the atmospheric CO(2) concentration ([CO(2)](a)). Here we show using standardized dual isotopic tracers ((14)C and (33)P) that AM symbiosis efficiency (defined as plant P gain per unit of C invested into fungi) of liverwort gametophytes declines, but increases in the sporophytes of vascular plants (ferns and angiosperms), at 440 p.p.m. compared with 1,500 p.p.m. [CO(2)](a). These contrasting responses are associated with larger AM hyphal networks, and structural advances in vascular plant water-conducting systems, promoting P transport that enhances AM efficiency at 440 p.p.m. [CO(2)](a). Our results suggest that non-vascular land plants not only faced intense competition for light, as vascular land floras grew taller in the Palaeozoic, but also markedly reduced efficiency and total capture of P as [CO(2)](a) fell.

PMID:
22588297
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms1831
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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