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Plants colonised by mycorrhizal fungi - better growth under water stress

16 January 2014

A 2013 article in Mycorrhiza Journal analyses 54 published articles that explore the effects of mycorrhizal fungi on the growth of water-stressed plants, the article concludes these benefits:



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Article Title: Influence of arbuscular mycorrhiza on growth and reproductive response of plants under water deficit: a meta-analysis

Benjamin Jayne and Martin Quigley

Mycorrhiza Journal - published online August 2013


Despite a large body of literature that describes the effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization on plant response to water deficit, reviews of these works have been mainly in narrative form, and it is therefore difficult to quantify the magnitude of the effect. We performed a meta-analysis to examine the effect of mycorrhizal colonization on growth and yield of plants exposed to water deficit stress. Data were compared in the context of annual vs. perennial plants, herbaceous vs. woody plants, field vs. greenhouse conditions, degree of stress, functional group, regions of plant growth, and mycorrhizal and host species. We found that, in terms of biomass measurements, mycorrhizal plants have better growth and reproductive response under water stress compared to non-mycorrhizal plants. When variables such as habit, life cycle, or water stress level are considered, differences in mycorrhizal effect on plant growth between variables are observed. While growth of both annual and perennial plants is improved by symbiosis, perennials respond more favorably to colonization than annuals.

Overall, our meta-analysis reveals a quantifiable corroboration of the commonly held view that, under water-deficit conditions, plants colonized by mycorrhizal fungi have better growth and reproductive response than those that are not.