Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are a category of fungi that occupy virtually all of the Earth's soils. Their role as plant symbionts for nearly all land plants is well documented, where these fungi forms partnerships with plants through the root system. These relationships vary from mutualistic to parasitic and allow the exchange of nutrients between the partners via fungal hyphae that penetrate the cell walls of roots. However, many details of the nature of this symbiosis are not well understood, and the interaction between plants and AMF has been the subject of increased interest recently given the potential benefit to farming systems and natural ecosystems. This study evaluated the variability of mycorrhizal growth response (MGR) to inoculation by the common AMF species Rhizophagus intraradices in a diverse set of wild sunflower species (Helianthus), focusing on how changes in plant traits due to fungal colonization may determine the relative cost or benefit of AMF partnership for wild plants. Results indicate that the overall impacts of AMF colonization on plant growth rate are small, though MGR is correlated with AMF-driven shifts in leaf chlorophyll content. These findings suggest that relative changes in plant growth rate that result from AMF partnership are mediated by plant functional trait.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Santoni, Alexa D., "Assessing Mycorrhizal Growth Rate Across Wild Helianthus Species" (2023). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1468.