ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI: A BELOWGROUND REGULATOR OF PLANT DIVERSITY IN GRASSLANDS AND THE HIDDEN MECHANISMS, pp. 303-316
Authors: (Qing Yao, Hong-Hui Zhu, College of Horticulture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China, and others)
Abstract: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) habitat almost all terrestrial ecosystems, and play a critical role in many ecological processes. In grasslands of almost all types, AMF are demonstrated to increase the plant biodiversity in most experiments, although some experiments indicate a decreased biodiversity. This regulation of grassland biodiversity by AMF can be attributed to several mechanisms. The differential growth responses of host plants to AMF are the direct factor leading to the altered biodiversity, and the promoted uptake of mineral nutrients with different degree by AMF among host plants is regarded to underlie the differential growth responses. Furthermore, hyphal links established between host plants of the same or different species represent a transport passage for resources (such as water, nutrients, carbon), by which these resources flow freely and finally redistribute evenly within the community. In practice, this regulation can be employed to restore the degraded grasslands, to monitor the competition between plants in the managed grasslands, and even to construct grasslands with pre-designed community structure. Future research is proposed in relation to the emerging issues and the practical application.