Impacts of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on nutrient uptake, N2 fixation, N transfer, and growth in a wheat/faba bean intercropping system

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Abstract

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can play a key role in natural and agricultural ecosystems affecting plant nutrition, soil biological activity and modifying the availability of nutrients by plants. This research aimed at expanding the knowledge of the role played by AMF in the uptake of macro- and micronutrients and N transfer (using a 15 N stem-labelling method) in a faba bean/wheat intercropping system. It also investigates the role of AMF in biological N fixation (using the natural isotopic abundance method) in faba bean grown in pure stand and in mixture. Finally, it examines the role of AMF in driving competition and facilitation between faba bean and wheat. Durum wheat and faba bean were grown in pots (five pots per treatment) as sole crops or in mixture in the presence or absence of AMF. Root colonisation by AMF was greater in faba bean than in wheat and increased when species were mixed compared to pure stand (particularly for faba bean). Mycorrhizal symbiosis positively influenced root biomass, specific root length, and root density and increased the uptake of P, Fe, and Zn in wheat (both in pure stand and in mixture) but not in faba bean. Furthermore, AMF symbiosis increased the percentage of N derived from the atmosphere in the total N biomass of faba bean grown in mixture (+20%) but not in pure stand. Nitrogen transfer from faba bean to wheat was low (2.5–3.0 mg pot -1 ); inoculation with AMF increased N transfer by 20%. Overall, in terms of above- and belowground growth and uptake of nutrients, mycorrhization favoured the stronger competitor in the mixture (wheat) without negatively affecting the companion species (faba bean). Results of this study confirm the role of AMF in driving biological interactions among neighbouring plants. and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Volume14
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General

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