Mycorrhizal fungi affect root stele tissue in grasses

TitleMycorrhizal fungi affect root stele tissue in grasses
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsMiller, RM, Hetrick, BAD, Wilson, GWT
JournalCanadian Journal of Botany
Pagination1778 -1784
Accession NumberKNZ00604

Although arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis was initially believed to have little or no impact on root morphology, we now recognize that subtle changes do occur and that these changes may be of considerable consequence to host growth and nutrition, as well as functional growth strategy. In examining the stele and root diameters of C3 and C4 grasses, C4 grasses were demonstrated to have a significantly larger proportion of their fibrous roots occupied by stele tissue than do C3 grasses. In fact, functional growth strategy (C3 versus C4) was observed to be a relatively good predictor of stele area. Mycorrhizal fungi also influenced the amount of stele tissue, but the effect was not the same for both C3 and C4 grasses. The stele area of all C4 grasses except for Sorghastrum nutans was greater in the presence of mycorrhizal colonization. Among the C3 grasses, only Bromus inermis showed a significant increase, although Elymus cinereus and Lolium perenne displayed significant decreases in response to arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization. Changes in the stele area of the plant species were closely related to their responsiveness to mycorrhizal symbiosis and might in part explain both beneficial and detrimental responses of plants to mycorrhizae. An increase in stele circumference induced by mycorrhizae would allow for greater uptake and passage of water and nutrients to the vascular cylinder, and growth depressions could be a direct outcome of reduced stele circumference. Thus, differences in stele circumference represent a possible mechanism for mycorrhizal impacts on host plants. These findings indicate that structural differences among grasses are related to different functional capabilities and further emphasize the need for better integration of comparative anatomy and morphology procedures in the study of mycorrhizal symbiosis. Key words: stele, root anatomy, mycorrhizal dependency, functional growth strategy, mycorrhiza, C3 and C4 grasses.