Multitrophic interactions between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, foliar endophytic fungi and aphids

Nadia Ab Razak, Alan Gange

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Almost all living plants can be simultaneously colonised by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the roots and endophytes in the shoots, while also being attacked by insect herbivores. However, to date no study has ever examined the multitrophic interactions between these two different fungal groups and insects on any species of forb. Here, we examined the effects of two commercial species mixtures of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and two foliar endophytes (Colletotrichum acutatum and Cladosporium oxysporum) on the growth of an invasive weed, Impatiens glandulifera, and the aphids that attack it. AMF reduced plant biomass, which was most evident when C. oxysporum was inoculated. Mycorrhizal fungi had few effects on aphids, and these depended on the identity of the endophytes present. Meanwhile, endophytes tended to increase aphid numbers, but this depended on the identity of the AMF inoculum. Throughout, there were differences in the responses of the plant to the two mycorrhizal mixtures, demonstrating clear AMF specificity in this plant. These specific effects were also strongly affected by the endophytes, with a greater number of interactions found between the AMF and endophytes than between the endophytes themselves. In particular, AMF reduced infection levels by the endophytes, while some endophyte inoculations reduced mycorrhizal colonisation. We suggest that both AMF and endophytes could play an important part in future biological control programmes of weeds, but further multitrophic experiments are required to unravel the complexity of interactions between spatially-separated parts of the plant microbiome.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Early online date13 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2021


  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • endophyte
  • Impatiens glandulifera
  • inoculant
  • insect

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