Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis increases relative apoplastic water flow in roots of the host plant under both well-watered and drought stress conditions

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Abstract

Background and Aims

The movement of water through mycorrhizal fungal tissues and between the fungus and roots is little understood. It has been demonstrated that arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis regulates root hydraulic properties, including root hydraulic conductivity. However, it is not clear whether this effect is due to a regulation of root aquaporins (cell-to-cell pathway) or to enhanced apoplastic water flow. Here we measured the relative contributions of the apoplastic versus the cell-to-cell pathway for water movement in roots of AM and non-AM plants.

Methods

We used a combination of two experiments using the apoplastic tracer dye light green SF yellowish and sodium azide as an inhibitor of aquaporin activity. Plant water and physiological status, root hydraulic conductivity and apoplastic water flow were measured.

Key Results

Roots of AM plants enhanced significantly relative apoplastic water flow as compared with non-AM plants and this increase was evident under both well-watered and drought stress conditions. The presence of the AM fungus in the roots of the host plants was able to modulate the switching between apoplastic and cell-to-cell water transport pathways.

Conclusions

The ability of AM plants to switch between water transport pathways could allow a higher flexibility in the response of these plants to water shortage according to the demand from the shoot.

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