Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi play a prominent role in plant nutrition by supplying mineral nutrients, particularly inorganic phosphate (Pi), and also constitute an important carbon sink. AM stimulates plant growth and development, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In this study, Medicago truncatula plants were grown with Rhizophagus irregularis BEG141 inoculum (AM), mock inoculum (control) or with Pi fertilization. We hypothesized that AM stimulates plant growth through either modifications of leaf anatomy or photosynthetic activity per leaf area.We investigated whether these effects are shared with Pifertilization, and also assessed the relationship between levels of AM colonization and these effects. We found that increased Pisupply by either mycorrhization or fertilization led to improved shoot growth associated with increased nitrogen uptake and carbon assimilation. Both mycorrhized and P i-fertilized plants had more and longer branches with larger and thicker leaves than the control plants, resulting in an increased photosynthetically active area. AM-specific effects were earlier appearance of the first growth axes and increased number of chloroplasts per cell section, since they were not induced by Pifertilization. Photosynthetic activity per leaf area remained the same regardless of type of treatment. In conclusion, the increase in growth of mycorrhized and Pi-fertilized Medicago truncatula plants is linked to an increase in the surface for sunlight capture, hence increasing their photosynthetic production, rather than to an increase in the photosynthetic activity per leaf area.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)