Nitrogen transfer from one plant to another depends on plant biomass production between conspecific and heterospecific species via a common arbuscular mycorrhizal network

Yuejun He*, Johannes H.C. Cornelissen, Pengpeng Wang, Ming Dong, Jing Ou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The formation of a common mycorrhizal network (CMN) between roots of different plant species enables nutrient transfers from one plant to another and their coexistence. However, almost all studies on nutrient transfers between CMN-connected plants have separately, but not simultaneously, been demonstrated under the same experimentation. Both conspecific and heterospecific seedlings of Cinnamomum camphora, Bidens pilosa, and Broussonetia papyrifera native to a karst habitat in southwest China were concurrently grown in a growth microcosm that had seven hollowed compartments (six around one in the center) being covered by 35.0-μm and/or 0.45-μm nylon mesh. The Ci. camphora in the central compartment was supplied with or without Glomus etunicatum and 15 N to track N transfers between CMN-connected conspecific and heterospecific seedlings. The results showed as follows: significant greater nitrogen accumulations, biomass productions, 15 N content, % N transfer , and the N transfer amount between receiver plant species ranked as Br. papyrifera≈Bi. pilosa > Ci. camphora under both M + and M , and as under M + than under M for Ci. camphora but not for both Bi. Pilosa and Br. papyrifera; the CMN transferred more nitrogen ( 15 N content, % N transfer , and N transfer amount) from the donor Ci. camphora to the heterospecific Br. papyrifera and Bi. pilosa, with a lower percentage of nitrogen derived from transfer (%NDFT). These findings suggest that the CMN may potentially regulate the nitrogen transfer from a donor plant to individual heterospecific receiver plants, where the ratio of nitrogen derived from transfer depends on the biomass strength of the individual plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8828-8837
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number9
Early online date2 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019



  • N
  • Bidens pilosa
  • Broussonetia papyrifera
  • Cinnamomum camphora
  • Common mycorrhizal networks
  • Glomus etunicatum
  • Nitrogen transfer

Cite this