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Vol. 168, No: 1, 2012, Pages: 131- 9.

Mycorrhizal colonization does not affect tolerance to defoliation of an annual herb in different light availability and soil fertility treatments but increases flower size in light-rich environments.

Aguilar-Chama A, Guevara R.

Red de Biología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología AC, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.


Heterogeneous distribution of resources in most plant populations results in a mosaic of plant physiological responses tending to maximize plant fitness. This includes plant responses to trophic interactions such as herbivory and mycorrhizal symbiosis which are concurrent in most plants. We explored fitness costs of 50% manual defoliation and mycorrhizal inoculation in Datura stramonium at different light availability and soil fertility environments in a greenhouse experiment. Overall, we showed that non-inoculated and mycorrhiza-inoculated plants did not suffer from 50% manual defoliation in all the tested combinations of light availability and soil fertility treatments, while soil nutrients and light availability predominately affected plant responses to the mycorrhizal inoculation. Fifty percent defoliation had a direct negative effect on reproductive traits whereas mycorrhiza-inoculated plants produced larger flowers than non-inoculated plants when light was not a limiting factor. Although D. stramonium is a facultative selfing species, other investigations had shown clear advantages of cross-pollination in this species; therefore, the effects of mycorrhizal inoculation on flower size observed in this study open new lines of inquiry for our understanding of plant responses to trophic interactions. Also in this study, we detected shifts in the limiting resources affecting plant responses to trophic interactions.

Keywords:maximize plant fitness,mycorrhizal inoculation on flower size,trophic interactions,facultative selfing species.


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