Belowground crop responses to root herbivory are associated with the community structure of native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Article


Ng, Anna, Wilson, Bree A.L. and Frew, Adam. 2023. "Belowground crop responses to root herbivory are associated with the community structure of native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi." Applied Soil Ecology. 185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsoil.2022.104797
Article Title

Belowground crop responses to root herbivory are associated with the community structure of native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

ERA Journal ID5246
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsNg, Anna, Wilson, Bree A.L. and Frew, Adam
Journal TitleApplied Soil Ecology
Journal Citation185
Article Number104797
Number of Pages10
Year2023
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationNetherlands
ISSN0929-1393
1873-0272
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsoil.2022.104797
Web Address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0929139322004139
Abstract

There is growing interest in managing arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in agriculture to support plant production. These fungi can support crop growth and nutrient uptake, but also affect plant-herbivore interactions. While our understanding of how AM fungi affect plant responses to herbivory advances, it is less clear how different naturally-occurring (native) fungal communities differentially influence crop responses to root-feeding insects.

To explore this, plants (Sorghum bicolor) were grown in a glasshouse experiment without AM fungi (‘no AM fungi’) or with one of three natural soil inocula sourced either from a sclerophyll forest (‘forest inoculum’), a cropped field (‘field inoculum’), or a field in fallow (‘fallow inoculum’), while half the plants were subjected to a root herbivore (Dermolepida albohirtum). We assessed the effects of soil inoculum and root herbivory on root-colonising AM fungal diversity, plant growth, and nutrient content.

Root herbivory did not affect AM fungal diversity or composition. Plants grown with the field or fallow inocula were both dominated by the genera Glomus and Claroideoglomus. These plants exhibited reduced biomass in response to inoculation, but were not impacted by root herbivory. In contrast, plants with the forest inoculum had AM fungal communities dominated by Paraglomus and Ambispora. When subjected to root herbivory, the forest inoculated plants and plants without AM fungi exhibited reductions of 44 % and 61 % in root biomass, and reductions of 65 % and 59 % in root phosphorus, respectively.

Our study shows inoculation-driven plant responses to root herbivory that were associated with the community structure of their root-colonising AM fungi. Results suggest associations with communities dominated by Claroideoglomus and Glomus may mitigate the impacts of a root-feeding insect. More exploration of how natural assemblages of AM fungi mediate plant-herbivore interactions is needed if we are to effectively manage soil fungi in agriculture.

KeywordsArbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; Dermolepida albohirtum ; Plant defence ; Root herbivory
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020300409. Crop and pasture protection (incl. pests, diseases and weeds)
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Byline AffiliationsCentre for Crop Health
Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment
Western Sydney University
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