Testing the Effect of Soil Heterogeneity on Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Fungi (AMF) Contribution to Plant Productivity

DOI: 10.4236/oje.2014.46028   PDF   HTML     4,034 Downloads   5,058 Views   Citations


Most natural soils are heterogeneous and nutrient availability and soil structure change greatly over small distances. It is still unclear whether AMF are advantageous for plants under such heterogeneous soil conditions. The objective of this study was to determine whether diverse AMF community support host plant community productivity in heterogeneous soil. It was also tested whether soil heterogeneity affects plant productivity. This was carried out in a greenhouse experiment made up of two factors: soil heterogeneity and AMF richness. Soil heterogeneity was simulated by mixing three soil types (sand, field soil and organic soil) together (homogenous soil (HM)), mixing them partly (semi homogenous (SH)) or keeping the three soil types separate in three compartments within one pot (heterogeneous (HT)). AMF richness was simulated by adding no AMF, one of four different AMF species separately, or all four different AMF together. The pots were planted with a mixture of Trifolium pratense and Lolium multiflorum. There was no effect of soil heterogeneity on total plant biomass. However, the biomass of the individual plant species was greatly affected by soil heterogeneity with Lolium being the most abundant in the heterogeneous soil and Trifolium being the most abundant in the homogenous soil. Total plant biomass did not increase with AMF richness. Moreover, opposite to the hypothesis, AMF richness was not beneficial for plant productivity in a heterogenous soil environment. However, there were significant differences in plant biomass with different AMF treatments in the SH and HT treatment indicating that effects of AMF on plant productivity are influenced by soil type. These effects on yield and AMF reflect a combination of local responses to growing conditions. The results show that AMF influence on plant yield may not always be positive but is strongly dependent on ecological elasticity and environmental condition.

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Ayesu, S. and Gyabaah, G. (2014) Testing the Effect of Soil Heterogeneity on Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Fungi (AMF) Contribution to Plant Productivity. Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 299-310. doi: 10.4236/oje.2014.46028.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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