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Meta-Analysis of Crop and Weed Growth Responses to Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi: Implications for Integrated Weed Management

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Meng Li*
Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Urbana, IL 61801
Nicholas R. Jordan
Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108
Roger T. Koide
Department of Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602
Anthony C. Yannarell
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Urbana, IL 61801
Adam S. Davis
United Stated Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Urbana, IL 61801
Corresponding author's E-mail:


Integrated weed management (IWM) relies upon multiple chemical, physical, or biological weed management techniques to achieve an acceptable level of weed control. Agents that selectively suppress weeds but not crops and that can be manipulated in agriculture will be promising components for inclusion in IWM. We used a meta-analytic approach to investigate the potential of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) to contribute to IWM. We quantified the effect of crop and weed host status (strong and weak AMF hosts are divided in this study by a 10% root length colonization threshold), AMF diversity (single vs. mixed), and soil N and P fertility management on plant mycorrhizal growth responses (MGRs). Our results indicated that weak host weeds had consistently lower MGRs than strong host crops in both controlled and field conditions. Moreover, these differences in MGRs between weak host weeds and strong host crops were more pronounced under mixed AMF inoculum and low N and P nutrient availability. In contrast, MGR of strong host weeds was not different from strong host crops in general. However, we observed a wide range of MGRs among strong host weeds, some of which had much lower MGRs than strong host crops. In addition, in the presence of N and P fertilizers, strong host crops had a stronger positive response to AMF than strong host weeds. Thus, our meta-analysis indicates that AMF have potential to contribute to weed control by direct and indirect pathways: directly suppress weak host weeds, and indirectly suppress some strong host weeds mediating by competitive effects exerted by strong host crops. We suggest that management practices affecting AMF diversity and crop and weed mycorrhizal responses could be chosen to improve the contribution of AMF to IWM. Better understanding is needed of crop–weed–AMF interactions and management practices that enhance this form of weed management.

Weed Biology and Ecology
Copyright © 2016 by the Weed Science Society of America 

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Associate editor for this paper: William Vencill, University of Georgia.


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