Plant root systems play a fundamental role in nutrient and water acquisition. In resource-limited soils, modification of root system architecture is an important strategy to optimize plant performance. Most terrestrial plants also form symbiotic associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to maximize nutrient uptake. In addition to direct delivery of nutrients, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi benefit the plant host by promoting root growth. Here, we aimed to quantify the impact of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis on root growth and nutrient uptake in maize. Inoculated plants showed an increase in both biomass and the total content of twenty quantified elements. In addition, image analysis showed mycorrhizal plants to have denser, more branched root systems. For most of the quantified elements, the increase in content in mycorrhizal plants was proportional to root and overall plant growth. However, the increase in boron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, and strontium was greater than predicted by root system size alone, indicating fungal delivery to be supplementing root uptake.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
- Plant Science