Sex-specific responses to mycorrhiza in a dioecious species

Varga, S. and Kytoviita, M.-M. (2008) Sex-specific responses to mycorrhiza in a dioecious species. American Journal of Botany, 95 (10). pp. 1225-1232. ISSN 0002-9122

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In most studies about dioecious plants, the role of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and the potential sex-specific differences between the plant hosts have been overlooked. Because plant sexes frequently differ in drought tolerance and AM fungal colonization provides higher resistance to drought, we investigated whether the relation of mycorrhizal fungi with either male or female Antennaria dioica plants differs using a factorial experiment. We hypothesized that because AM usually increase growth rate and male plants usually grow larger than females, males should gain more benefit from the mycorrhizal symbiosis in terms of mineral nutrition and water supply. Because of higher demands of carbohydrates (C) in males, we expected males to allocate less C resources to the mycorrhizal fungus so that the associated fungi should benefit less of the association with males. In contrast to our initial hypothesis, the male plants, although faster growing under drought, did not gain more symbiosis-mediated benefits than did the females, and both sexes seemed to provide resources equally to their fungal symbiont. Therefore, we conclude that the two plant sexual morphs provide equal amounts of C to their fungal root symbionts and that they can gain specific benefits from the symbiosis, which, however, depend on soil water availability.

Keywords:Antennaria dioica; arbuscular mycorrhizae; Asteraceae; clonal growth; dioecy; drought; Glomus claroideum; mycorrhizal benefit; sexual dimorphism.
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C180 Ecology
C Biological Sciences > C220 Mycology
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
C Biological Sciences > C200 Botany
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:17273
Deposited On:25 Apr 2015 19:11

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