Depletion of soil mineral N by roots of ¤Cucumis sativus¤ L. colonized or not by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

A. Johansen

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    Two experiments were conducted where Cucumis sativus were grown in uncompartmented pots either alone or in symbiosis with Glomus intraradices Schenck and Smith (Experiment 1) or Glomus sp. (Experiment 2) in order to investigate if root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi has an effect on depletion of the soil mineral N pool. All pots were gradually supplied with 31 mg NH4NO3-N kg(-1) dry soil from 12-19 days after planting and an additional 50 mg (NH4)(2)SO4-N kg(-1) dry soil (N-15-labelled in Experiment 1) was supplied at 21 or 22 days after planting in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively. Dry weight of plant parts, total root length, mycorrhizal colonization rate and soil concentration of NH4+ and NO3- were recorded at five sequential harvest events: 21, 24, 30, 35 and 42 days (Experiment 1) and 22, 25, 28, 31 and 35 days (Experiment 2) after planting. In Experiment 1, plants were also analysed for total content of N and N-15.

    The mycorrhizal colonization rate increased during time: from 25 to 40% in Experiment 1 and from 50 to 60% in Experiment 2. Plant dry matter accumulation was unaffected by mycorrhizal colonization, except in Experiment 1 where shoot dry weights were slightly increased and in Experiment 2 where root dry weights were slightly decreased compared to non-mycorrhizal control plants. The total root length was similar in the control and mycorrhizal treatments in Experiment 1, while it was decreased (20-30%) by mycorrhizal colonization in the last two harvest in Experiment 2. Mycorrhizal colonization affected the rate of depletion of soil mineral N in Experiment 1, where both NH4+ and NO3- concentrations were markedly lower in the first two harvests, when plants were mycorrhizal. As the root length was similar in mycorrhizal and control treatments, this may indicate that the external AM hyphae contributed to the depletion of the soil mineral N pool. A similar pattern was observed in Experiment 2, although the effect was less pronounced. The N-15 enrichment in mycorrhizal plants (Experiment 1) also indicated a faster NH4+ uptake than in the non-mycorrhizal controls in the first two harvests after application of the N-15-labelled N source. However, the external hyphae and roots seemed to have access to the same N sources as the N-15 enrichment and total N content were similar in mycorrhizal and control plants at the end of the experiment.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)119-127
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

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