Quantity and distribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal storage organs within dead roots
The formation of storage organs, such as spores and vesicles, is a central part of the life cycle of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF), but the conditions under which this occurs in AMF are not well understood. Here, quantity and distribution of storage organs formed by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) Funneliformis mosseae within dead (excised) roots were characterised. ‘Trap roots’ (TR), separated from the growth substrate by a 30-μm mesh, supported hyphal growth and formation of storage organs of the AMF. Hyphae developed both inside and on the outside of the TR and also within air gaps of surrounding nylon mesh compartments, but formation of vesicles and spores was confined to the interior and to the surface of the TR. Up to 20 % of the TR length harboured newly formed storage organs, resulting in a number of about 60 per mg TR dry weight. The portion of TR length containing storage organs was greater in coarse (diameter >300 μm) than in thin (<150 μm) TR, irrespective of whether the TR were sourced from an AMF host or non-host plant. We conclude that the AMF’s extraradical mycelium produces its storage organs within dead roots in preference to air space in the substrate. Dead roots may indirectly supply nutrients to AMF (once they have been mineralised) or represent a protected space for the fungal structures to develop. The experimental technique described here allows for the preparation of AMF spores and vesicles of F. mosseae free of any mineral substrate.
Müller, A., Ngwene, B., Peiter, E., George, E. 2016. Quantity and distribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal storage organs within dead roots. Mycorrhiza 27(3), 201-210.