Tradeoffs among root morphology, exudation and mycorrhizal symbioses for phosphorus-acquisition strategies of 16 crop species

Zhihui Wen, Hongbo Li, Qi Shen, Xiaomei Tang, Chuanyong Xiong, Haigang Li, Jiayin Pang, Megan H. Ryan, Hans Lambers, Jianbo Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Plant roots exhibit diverse root functional traits to enable soil phosphorus (P) acquisition, including changes in root morphology, root exudation and mycorrhizal symbioses. Yet, whether these traits are differently coordinated among crop species to enhance P acquisition is unclear. Here, eight root functional traits for P acquisition were characterized in 16 major herbaceous crop species grown in a glasshouse under limiting and adequate soil P availability. We found substantial interspecific variation in root functional traits among species. Those with thinner roots showed more root branching and less first-order root length, and had consistently lower colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), fewer rhizosheath carboxylates and reduced acid phosphatase activity. In response to limiting soil P, species with thinner roots showed a stronger response in root branching, first-order root length and specific root length of the whole root system, Conversely, species with thicker roots exhibited higher colonization by AMF and/or more P-mobilizing exudates in the rhizosheath. We conclude that, at the species level, tradeoffs occur among the three groups of root functional traits we examined. Root diameter is a good predictor of the relative expression of these traits and how they change when P is limiting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-895
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume223
Issue number2
Early online date1 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

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