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A nurse plant benefits from facilitative interactions through mycorrhizae

AuthorsSortibrán, L.; Verdú, Miguel ; Valiente-Banuet, Alfonso
KeywordsAboveground–belowground interactions
Mycorrhizal fungi
Species coexistence
Issue Date9-Dec-2018
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationPlant Biology (2018)
AbstractPlant facilitation promotes coexistence by maintaining differences in the regeneration niche because some nurse species recruit under arid conditions, whereas facilitated species recruit under more mesic conditions. In one Mexican community, 95% of species recruit through facilitation; Mimosa luisana being a keystone nurse for many of them. M. luisana individuals manifest greater fitness when growing in association with their facilitated plants than when growing in isolation. This observation suggests that nurses also benefit from their facilitated plants, a benefit thought to be mediated by mycorrhizal fungi. Under field conditions, we experimentally tested whether mycorrhizal fungi mediate the increased fitness that M. luisana experiences when growing in association with its facilitated plants. We applied fungicide to the soil for nurse plants growing alone and growing in association with their facilitated plants in order to reduce the mycorrhizal colonisation of roots. We then assessed the quantity and quality of seed production of M. luisana in four treatments (isolated‐control, isolated‐fungicide, associated‐control and associated‐fungicide). Fungicide application reduced the percentage root length colonised by mycorrhizae and reduced fitness of M. luisana when growing in association with their facilitated plants but not when growing in isolation. This reduction was reflected in the total number of seeds, number of seeds per pod, seed mass and seed viability. These results suggest that nurses benefit from the presence of their facilitated plants through links established by mycorrhizae, indicating that both plants and belowground mutualistic communities are all part of one system, coexisting by means of intrinsically linked interactions.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/plb.12948
Appears in Collections:(CIDE) Artículos
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