Mycorrhizal status and host genotype interact to shape plant nutrition in field grown maize (Zea mays ssp. mays)

Meng Li, Sergio Perez-Limón, M. Rosario Ramírez-Flores, Benjamín Barrales-Gamez, Marco Antonio Meraz-Mercado, Gregory Ziegler, Ivan Baxter, Víctor Olalde-Portugal, Ruairidh J.H. Sawers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) establish symbioses with the major cereal crops, providing plants with increased access to nutrients while enhancing their tolerance to toxic heavy metals. However, not all plant varieties benefit equally from this association. In this study, we used quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping to evaluate the combined effect of host genotypic variation (G) and AMF across 141 genotypes on the concentration of 20 mineral elements in the leaves and grain of field grown maize (Zea mays spp. mays). Our mapping design included selective incorporation of a castor AMF-incompatibility mutation, allowing estimation of AMF, QTL and QTLxAMF effects by comparison of mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants. Overall, AMF compatibility was associated with higher concentrations of boron (B), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), phosphorus (P), selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn) and lower concentrations of arsenic (As), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), potassium (K) and strontium (Sr). In addition to effects on individual elements, pairwise correlation matrices for element concentration differed between mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants. We mapped 22 element QTLs, including 18 associated with QTLxAMF effects that indicate plant genotype-specific differences in the impact of AMF on the host ionome. Although there is considerable interest in AMF as biofertilizers, it remains challenging to estimate the impact of AMF in the field. Our design illustrates an effective approach for field evaluation of AMF effects. Furthermore, we demonstrate the capacity of the ionome to reveal host genotype-specific variation in the impact of AMF on plant nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-358
Number of pages14
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Ionome
  • Maize
  • Quantitative trait loci


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