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    Plant carbon (C) partitioning-the relative use of photosynthates for biomass production, respiration, and other plant functions-is a key but poorly understood ecosystem process. In an experiment with Zea mays, with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), we investigated the effect of phosphorus (P) fertilization and AMF on plant C partitioning. Based on earlier studies, we expected C partitioning to biomass production (i.e., biomass production efficiency; BPE) to increase with increasing P addition due to reduced C partitioning to AMF. However, although plant growth was clearly stimulated by P addition, BPE did not increase. Instead, C partitioning to autotrophic respiration increased. These results contrasted with our expectations and with a previous experiment in the same set-up where P addition increased BPE while no effect on autotropic respiration was found. The comparison of both experiments suggests a key role for AMF in explaining these contrasts. Whereas in the previous experiment substantial C partitioning to AMF reduced BPE under low P, in the current experiment, C partitioning to AMF was too low to directly influence BPE. Our results illustrate the complex influence of nutrient availability and mycorrhizal symbiosis on plant C partitioning. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Citation

    Arne Ven, Melanie S Verlinden, Erik Fransen, Pål Axel Olsson, Erik Verbruggen, Håkan Wallander, Sara Vicca. Phosphorus addition increased carbon partitioning to autotrophic respiration but not to biomass production in an experiment with Zea mays. Plant, cell & environment. 2020 Sep;43(9):2054-2065

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    PMID: 32400909

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