Plant species richness and developmental morphology stage influence mycorrhizal Patagonia plants root colonization
The objectives of this study were to determine the percentage of root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi at various levels of plant species richness and developmental morphology stages in various perennial grass, and herbaceous and woody dicots species using experimental plots during 2013 and 2014. An auger was used to obtain six replicate root + soil samples at each sampling time on each of the study parameters. Roots were washed free of soil, and percentage AM was determined. The shrub Larrea divaricata was the species which showed the lowest percentage of colonization by AM at the vegetative developmental morphology stage at the monocultures and six-species-mixtures on the experimental plots. Dicots, but not grass, species showed a greater percentage colonization by AM fungi at the greatest (i.e., six-species-mixtures) than lowest (i.e., monocultures) species richness. Although at different degrees of species richness and developmental morphology stages, the perennial grasses Nassella longiglumis and N. tenuis, the herbaceous dicot Atriplex semibaccata, and the shrubs L. divaricata and Schinus fasciculatus showed a greater (p < 0.050) percentage colonization by AM fungi during the second than the first study year. Even though it was speciesand sampling time-dependent, percentage colonization by AM fungi increased as species richness also increased most of the times. Our results demonstrated that the plant species differences in percentage colonization by AM fungi in the experimental plots were species richness-, developmental morphology stage-, and sampling-time dependents.