Phosphorus source alters host plant response to ectomycorrhizal diversity

James W. Baxter, John Dighton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We examined the influence of phosphorus source and availability on host plant (Pinus rigida) response to ectomycorrhizal diversity under contrasting P conditions. An ectomycorrhizal richness gradient was established with equimolar P supplied as either inorganic phosphate or organic inositol hexaphosphate. We measured growth and N and P uptake of individual P. rigida seedlings inoculated with one, two, or four species of ectomycorrhizal fungi simultaneously and without mycorrhizas in axenic culture. Whereas colonization of P. rigida by individual species of ectomycorrhizal fungi decreased with increasing fungal richness, colonization of all species combined increased. Plant biomass and N content increased across the ectomycorrhizal richness gradient in the organic but not the inorganic P treatment. Plants grown under organic P conditions had higher N concentration than those grown under inorganic P conditions, but there was no effect of richness. Phosphorus content of plants grown in the organic P treatment increased with increasing ectomycorrhizal richness, but there was no response in the inorganic P treatment. Phosphorus concentration was higher in plants grown at the four-species richness level in the organic P treatment, but there was no effect of diversity under inorganic P conditions. Overall, few ectomycorrhizal composition effects were found on plant growth or nutrient status. Phosphatase activities of individual ectomycorrhizal fungi differed under organic P conditions, but there was no difference in total root system phosphatase expression between the inorganic or organic P treatments or across richness levels. Our results provide evidence that plant response to ectomycorrhizal diversity is dependent on the source and availability of P.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)513-523
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


  • Inositol hexaphosphate (Phytate)
  • Mycorrhizal diversity
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Phosphorus availability
  • Plant growth
  • Species richness


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