Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Anna Sala

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Division of Biological Sciences

Abstract

Root colonizing arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi (AMF) are primarily known to help plants acquire nutrients and grow. However, recent research suggests that, AMF colonization may also enhance plant drought tolerance. In a field experiment in western Montana, we tested whether AMF colonization improves growth and ameliorates the effects of drought on the native forb Gaillardia aristata (Blanket flower). In 2017, we transplanted greenhouse-grown AMF-colonized and non-colonized Blanket flower seedlings to a field experimentally devoid of AMF. Each colonization type was further subjected to two watering regimes: one receiving mostly ambient precipitation and one receiving supplemental water. In mid-July (when plants were still growing) and in August (when plants started to flower) I destructively sampled plants from each treatment to examine the effect of AMF colonization on growth and plant water status. Irrespective of moisture treatment, AMF-colonized plants grew more, allocated relatively less biomass to roots and produced more flowers relative to non-colonized plants. Water treatments had modest effects on soil moisture and, consequently, on growth. However, supplemental water drastically increased reproduction in AMF-colonized plants relative to non-colonized plants. AMF colonization did not affect plant growth and water status under supplemental water. However, under ambient soil moisture (drier) AMF-colonized plants had better water status than non-colonized plants. Our results show that Blanket Flower benefits from AM fungi colonization and that such benefit increases under drought. Globally, drought is intensifying in magnitude and duration with potentially severe ecological and societal repercussions. Recent advances in soil ecological research have emphasized the role of complex below-ground biotic interactions on plant community distribution and resilience to drought. Our results add to a growing body of evidence that AMF contribute to plant drought tolerance. Further research should identify the physiological mechanisms involved and the ecological implications.

Category

Physical Sciences

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Apr 27th, 3:00 PM Apr 27th, 4:00 PM

Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Ameliorate the Negative Effects of Drought on Blanket Flower

UC South Ballroom

Root colonizing arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi (AMF) are primarily known to help plants acquire nutrients and grow. However, recent research suggests that, AMF colonization may also enhance plant drought tolerance. In a field experiment in western Montana, we tested whether AMF colonization improves growth and ameliorates the effects of drought on the native forb Gaillardia aristata (Blanket flower). In 2017, we transplanted greenhouse-grown AMF-colonized and non-colonized Blanket flower seedlings to a field experimentally devoid of AMF. Each colonization type was further subjected to two watering regimes: one receiving mostly ambient precipitation and one receiving supplemental water. In mid-July (when plants were still growing) and in August (when plants started to flower) I destructively sampled plants from each treatment to examine the effect of AMF colonization on growth and plant water status. Irrespective of moisture treatment, AMF-colonized plants grew more, allocated relatively less biomass to roots and produced more flowers relative to non-colonized plants. Water treatments had modest effects on soil moisture and, consequently, on growth. However, supplemental water drastically increased reproduction in AMF-colonized plants relative to non-colonized plants. AMF colonization did not affect plant growth and water status under supplemental water. However, under ambient soil moisture (drier) AMF-colonized plants had better water status than non-colonized plants. Our results show that Blanket Flower benefits from AM fungi colonization and that such benefit increases under drought. Globally, drought is intensifying in magnitude and duration with potentially severe ecological and societal repercussions. Recent advances in soil ecological research have emphasized the role of complex below-ground biotic interactions on plant community distribution and resilience to drought. Our results add to a growing body of evidence that AMF contribute to plant drought tolerance. Further research should identify the physiological mechanisms involved and the ecological implications.