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Mycorrhiza. 2014 Nov;24(8):595-602. doi: 10.1007/s00572-014-0578-3. Epub 2014 Apr 18.

Relative importance of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (Rhizophagus intraradices) and root hairs in plant drought tolerance.

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State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China.


Both arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and root hairs play important roles in plant uptake of water and mineral nutrients. To reveal the relative importance of mycorrhiza and root hairs in plant water relations, a bald root barley (brb) mutant and its wild type (wt) were grown with or without inoculation of the AM fungus Rhizophagus intraradices under well-watered or drought conditions, and plant physiological traits relevant to drought stress resistance were recorded. The experimental results indicated that the AM fungus could almost compensate for the absence of root hairs under drought-stressed conditions. Moreover, phosphorus (P) concentration, leaf water potential, photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, and water use efficiency were significantly increased by R. intraradices but not by root hairs, except for shoot P concentration and photosynthetic rate under the drought condition. Root hairs even significantly decreased root P concentration under drought stresses. These results confirm that AM fungi can enhance plant drought tolerance by improvement of P uptake and plant water relations, which subsequently promote plant photosynthetic performance and growth, while root hairs presumably contribute to the improvement of plant growth and photosynthetic capacity through an increase in shoot P concentration.

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