There is growing appreciation of arbuscular mycorrhizal effects on soil properties and their potential consequences on plant behavior. We examined the possibility that mycorrhizal soil may directly influence plant water relations. Using wild-type and noncolonizing bean mutants planted into soils previously produced using mycorrhizal or nonmycorrhizal sorghum plants, we partitioned mycorrhizal influence on stomatal conductance and drought resistance into soil and root components, testing whether effects of mycorrhizal fungi occurred mostly via mycorrhization of roots, mycorrhization of soil, or both. The mutation itself had no effect on any water relations parameter. Colonization by Gigaspora margarita Gerdemann & Trappe and Glomus intraradices Schenck & Smith had appreciable effects on leaf water potential at the lethal point and on osmotic adjustment, relative to nonmycorrhizal plants of comparable size. Mycorrhizal effects on drought resistance were attributable to an effect on the plant itself rather than to an effect of mycorrhizal soil. Mycorrhizal effects on stomatal conductance were attributable to mycorrhization of both roots and soil, as well as to mycorrhization of roots alone. Surprisingly, merely growing in a mycorrhizal soil resulted in promotion of stomatal conductance of nonmycorrhizal plants in both amply watered and draughted plants. Mycorrhizal effects on draughted plants did not appear to be related to altered soil water retention properties, as Gigaspora margarita and Glomus intraradices altered the soil's moisture characteristic curve only slightly.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science