Increasing phosphorus supply is not the mechanism by which arbuscular mycorrhiza increase attractiveness of bean (Vicia faba) to aphids

Zdenka Babikova*, Lucy Gilbert, Kate C. Randall, Toby J.A. Bruce, John A. Pickett, David Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, important plant mutualists, provide plants with nutrients such as phosphorus (P) in return for carbon. AM fungi also enhance the attractiveness of plants to aphids via effects on emissions of plant volatiles used in aphid host location. We tested whether increased P uptake by plants is the mechanism through which AM fungi alter the volatile profile of plants and aphid behavioural responses by manipulating the availability of P and AM fungi to broad beans (Vicia faba L.) in a multi-factorial design. If AM fungi affect plant volatiles only via increased P acquisition, we predicted that the emission of volatiles and the attractiveness of mycorrhizal beans to aphids would be similar to those of non-mycorrhizal beans supplied with additional P. AM fungi and P addition increased leaf P concentrations by 40 and 24%, respectively. The production of naphthalene was less in mycorrhizal plants, regardless of P addition. By contrast, production of (S)-linalool, (E)-caryophyllene and (R)-germacrene D was less in plants colonized by AM fungi but only in the absence of P additions. The attractiveness of plants to pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris) was positively affected by AM fungi and correlated with the extent of root colonization; however, attractiveness was neither affected by P treatment nor correlated with leaf P concentration. These findings suggest that increased P uptake is not the main mechanism by which mycorrhiza increase the attractiveness of plants to aphids. Instead, the mechanism is likely to operate via AM fungi-induced plant systemic signalling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5231-5241
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


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