Facilitative and competitive interactions between mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal plants in an extremely phosphorus-impoverished environment: role of ectomycorrhizal fungi and native oomycete pathogens in shaping species coexistence

Clement E. Gille, Patrick M. Finnegan, Patrick E. Hayes, Kosala Ranathunge, Treena I. Burgess, Felix de Tombeur, Duccio Migliorini, Paul Dallongeville, Gaetan Glauser, Hans Lambers

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Nonmycorrhizal cluster root-forming species enhance the phosphorus (P) acquisition of mycorrhizal neighbours in P-impoverished megadiverse systems. However, whether mycorrhizal plants facilitate the defence of nonmycorrhizal plants against soil-borne pathogens, in return and via their symbiosis, remains unknown.We characterised growth and defence-related compounds in Banksia menziesii (nonmycorrhizal) and Eucalyptus todtiana (ectomycorrhizal, ECM) seedlings grown either in monoculture or mixture in a multifactorial glasshouse experiment involving ECM fungi and native oomycete pathogens.Roots of B. menziesii had higher levels of phytohormones (salicylic and jasmonic acids, jasmonoyl-isoleucine and 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid) than E. todtiana which further activated a salicylic acid-mediated defence response in roots of B. menziesii, but only in the presence of ECM fungi. We also found that B. menziesii induced a shift in the defence strategy of E. todtiana, from defence-related secondary metabolites (phenolic and flavonoid) towards induced phytohormone response pathways.We conclude that ECM fungi play a vital role in the interactions between mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal plants in a severely P-impoverished environment, by introducing a competitive component within the facilitation interaction between the two plant species with contrasting nutrient-acquisition strategies. This study sheds light on the interplay between beneficial and detrimental soil microbes that shape plant-plant interaction in severely nutrient-impoverished ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalNew Phytologist
Early online date17 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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