Elevated CO2Spurs Reciprocal Positive Effects Between a Plant Virus and an Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus

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  • Plants form ubiquitous associations with diverse microbes. These interactions range from parasitism to mutualism, depending partly on resource supplies that are being altered by global change. While many studies have considered the separate effects of pathogens and mutualists on their hosts, few studies have investigated interactions among microbial mutualists and pathogens in the context of global change.
  • Using two wild grass species as model hosts, we grew individual plants under ambient or elevated CO2, and ambient or increased soil phosphorus (P) supply. Additionally, individuals were grown with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculum, and after 2 wk, plants were inoculated or mock-inoculated with a phloem-restricted virus.
  • Under elevated CO2, mycorrhizal association increased the titer of virus infections, and virus infection reciprocally increased the colonization of roots by mycorrhizal fungi. Additionally, virus infection decreased plant allocation to root biomass, increased leaf P, and modulated effects of CO2 and P addition on mycorrhizal root colonization.
  • These results indicate that plant mutualists and pathogens can alter each other's success, and predict that these interactions will respond to increased resource availability and elevated CO2. Together, our findings highlight the importance of interactions among multiple microorganisms for plant performance under global change.