Intra- and inter-specific density affects plant growth responses to arbuscular mycorrhizas

Michelle S. Schroeder-Moreno, David P. Janos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Arbuscular mycorrhizas can alter competitive interactions between plants that markedly differ in their dependence upon mycorrhizas, but little is known about how mycorrhizas affect intra- and inter-specific competition between similarly dependent plant species. We conducted competition experiments in pots between all pairs of the similarly facultatively mycotrophic crop species, chili (Capsicum annuum L.), maize (Zea mays L.), and zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.). We used a two-species yield-density model to analyze the separate effects of mycorrhizal inoculation, intra-, and inter-specific density on biomass responses. Mycorrhizas reduced the growth of all three plant species. Intraspecific competition increased the negative effect of mycorrhizas, as did interspecific competition at low intraspecific density. At high intraspecific density, however, interspecific competition improved plant responsiveness to mycorrhizas. Enhancement of plant benefit from mycorrhizas at high interspecific density of competing, weakly mycorrhiza-dependent species may help to explain the evolutionary maintenance of their associations with mycorrhizal fungi, and may be a key to understanding intercrop combinations that exceed the monoculture yields of component species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1180-1193
Number of pages14
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizas
  • Facilitation
  • Facultative mycotrophs
  • Interspecific competition
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Yield-density model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology


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