Local and distal effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization on direct pathway Pi uptake and root growth in Medicago truncatula

Stephanie J. Watts-Williams, Iver Jakobsen, Timothy R. Cavagnaro, Mette Grønlund

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Two pathways exist for plant Pi uptake from soil: via root epidermal cells (direct pathway) or via associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, and the two pathways interact in a complex manner. This study investigated distal and local effects of AM colonization on direct root Pi uptake and root growth, at different soil P levels. Medicago truncatula was grown at three soil P levels in split-pots with or without AM fungal inoculation and where one root half grew into soil labelled with 33P. Plant genotypes included the A17 wild type and the mtpt4 mutant. The mtpt4 mutant, colonized by AM fungi, but with no functional mycorrhizal pathway for Pi uptake, was included to better understand effects of AM colonization per se. Colonization by AM fungi decreased expression of direct Pi transporter genes locally, but not distally in the wild type. In mtpt4 mutant plants, direct Pi transporter genes and the Pi starvation-induced gene Mt4 were more highly expressed than in wild-type roots. In wild-type plants, less Pi was taken up via the direct pathway by non-colonized roots when the other root half was colonized by AM fungi, compared with non-mycorrhizal plants. Colonization by AM fungi strongly influenced root growth locally and distally, and direct root Pi uptake activity locally, but had only a weak influence on distal direct pathway activity. The responses to AM colonization in the mtpt4 mutant suggested that in the wild type, the increased P concentration of colonized roots was a major factor driving the effects of AM colonization on direct root Pi uptake.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)204061-4073
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi
  • Colonized root patch
  • direct pathway uptake (DPU)
  • Medicago truncatula
  • mtpt4- mutant
  • Pi transporters
  • Resource allocation
  • Soil P level


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