Decreasing relatedness among mycorrhizal fungi in a shared plant network increases fungal network size but not plant benefit

Anouk van 't Padje*, Malin Klein, Victor Caldas, Loreto Oyarte Galvez, Cathleen Broersma, Nicky Hoebe, Ian R. Sanders, Thomas Shimizu, E.T. Kiers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Theory suggests that relatives will cooperate more, and compete less, because of an increased benefit for shared genes. In symbiotic partnerships, hosts may benefit from interacting with highly related symbionts because there is less conflict among the symbionts. This has been difficult to test empirically. We used the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis to study the effects of fungal relatedness on host and fungal benefits, creating fungal networks varying in relatedness between two hosts, both in soil and in-vitro. To determine how fungal relatedness affected overall transfer of nutrients, we fluorescently tagged phosphorus and quantified resource distribution between two root systems. We found that colonization by less-related fungi was associated with increased fungal growth, lower transport of nutrients across the network, and lower plant benefit - likely an outcome of increased fungal competition. More generally, we demonstrate how symbiont relatedness can mediate benefits of symbioses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-520
JournalEcology Letters
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

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