The role of arbuscular mycorrhiza in zinc uptake by red clover growing in a calcareous soil spiked with various quantities of zinc

B. D. Chen, X. L. Li*, H. Q. Tao, P. Christie, Ming Hung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

205 Citations (Scopus)


Three pot experiments were conducted to investigate the role of arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) in Zn uptake by red clover. Plants inoculated with Glomus mosseae and uninoculated controls were grown in a sterile calcareous soil in 'Plexiglas' (Acrylic) containers with two nylon net partitions (30 μm mesh) to separate the central root zone from the two outer hyphal zones. The effects of mycorrhiza on plant growth and Zn uptake changed dramatically with increasing Zn addition level (range 0-1200 mg kg-1) in the root zone. With Zn addition levels <300 mg kg-1, added Zn did not affect plant yield and above the critical level plant yield gradually decreased but was always higher for mycorrhizal than for controls. Below the critical Zn application rate (50 mg kg-1), Zn uptake was enhanced while above this level Zn translocation to the shoots decreased. At all Zn addition levels, mycorrhizal colonization increased Zn absorption and accumulation in the roots, and this may help to explain the alleviation of Zn toxicity at high Zn application rates. As expected, AM colonization enhanced P nutrition and hence yield at all added Zn levels studied. Efforts were made to obtain direct evidence for hyphal contribution to Zn uptake by applying both Zn to the hyphal growth zone and additional P to the root zone to avoid the 'growth dilution effect'. The data demonstrate that mycorrhizal hyphae could absorb Zn directly from the soil and then transfer it to the plant roots. The hyphal contribution to Zn uptake by the host plant reached its maximum value at the Zn addition level of 50 mg kg-1, in which Zn uptake via the extramatrical hyphae comprised 22% of total uptake, thus confirming the critical Zn application level found previously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-846
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Calcareous soil
  • Red clover
  • Zinc uptake


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