Plant growth responses to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are highly variable, ranging from mutualism in a wide range of plants, to antagonism in some non-mycorrhizal plant species and plants characteristic of disturbed environments. Many agricultural weeds are non mycorrhizal or originate from ruderal environments where AMF are rare or absent. This led us to hypothesize that AMF may suppress weed growth, a mycorrhizal attribute which has hardly been considered. We investigated the impact of AMF and AMF diversity (three versus one AMF taxon) on weed growth in experimental microcosms where a crop (sunflower) was grown together with six widespread weed species. The presence of AMF reduced total weed biomass with 47% in microcosms where weeds were grown together with sunflower and with 25% in microcosms where weeds were grown alone. The biomass of two out of six weed species was significantly reduced by AMF (-66% & -59%) while the biomass of the four remaining weed species was only slightly reduced (-20% to -37%). Sunflower productivity was not influenced by AMF or AMF diversity. However, sunflower benefitted from AMF via enhanced phosphorus nutrition. The results indicate that the stimulation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in agro-ecosystems may suppress some aggressive weeds. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Rinaudo, V., Barberi, P., Giovannetti, M., & van der Heijden, M. G. A. (2010). Mycorrhizal fungi suppress aggressive Agricultural weeds. Plant and Soil, 333, 7-20. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-009-0202-z