The relative contribution of indigenous and introduced arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia to plant nutrient acquisition in soybean/ maize intercropping in unsterilized soils

Qianqian Wang, Jiandong Sheng, Youjuan Wang, Kang Chen, Hans Lambers, Xiurong Wang

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Abstract

It has been demonstrated that intercropped crops may benefit from inoculation with rhizobia or arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in soybean/maize intercropping systems under sterilized conditions. Little is known about the relative contribution of indigenous and introduced AM fungi and rhizobia to nutrient acquisition of intercropped soybean and maize in unsterilized soils. In this study, we evaluated the effectiveness of indigenous and introduced AM fungi and rhizobia in a soybean/maize intercropping system under unsterilized soil conditions. The results show that introduced rhizobial inoculation promoted soybean nodulation and growth. Single AM fungal inoculation promoted indigenous rhizobial nodulation and increased maize AM root colonization, but had little effect on maize growth. Co-inoculation strongly increased plant dry weight, and nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) content of the intercropped soybean compared to those with only indigenous rhizobial and AM fungal communities, but had no effect on those of maize in the same intercropped system. These results indicate that AM fungal inoculation promoted nodulation by indigenous rhizobia. Effective rhizobial inoculation combined with introduced AM fungi may not only promote symbiotic N2 fixation, but also enhance rhizosphere processes, which has the potential to improve nutrient acquisition in the field. Soybean is a weak competitor compared with maize in intercropping systems. Inoculation with introduced AM and rhizobia ameliorated the growth suppression of intercropped soybean, but inhibited growth of intercropped maize, indicating that inoculation of introduced AM fungi and/or rhizobia partly shifted the competitive advantage from maize to soybean. In conclusion, introduced AM fungi and rhizobia contributed more than indigenous populations to promoting growth and nutrient acquisition of the intercropped soybean in unsterilized soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104124
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Volume168
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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