Stable C and N isotope natural abundances of intraradical hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.Mycorrhiza. 2020 Nov; 30(6):773-780.M
Data for stable C and N isotope natural abundances of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are currently sparse, as fungal material is difficult to access for analysis. So far, isotope analyses have been limited to lipid compounds associated with fungal membranes or storage structures (biomarkers), fungal spores and soil hyphae. However, it remains unclear whether any of these components are an ideal substitute for intraradical AM hyphae as the functional nutrient trading organ. Thus, we isolated intraradical hyphae of the AM fungus Rhizophagus irregularis from roots of the grass Festuca ovina and the legume Medicago sativa via an enzymatic and a mechanical approach. In addition, extraradical hyphae were isolated from a sand-soil mix associated with each plant. All three approaches revealed comparable isotope signatures of R. irregularis hyphae. The hyphae were 13C- and 15N-enriched relative to leaves and roots irrespective of the plant partner, while they were enriched only in 15N compared with soil. The 13C enrichment of AM hyphae implies a plant carbohydrate source, whereby the enrichment was likely reduced by an additional plant lipid source. The 15N enrichment indicates the potential of AM fungi to gain nitrogen from an organic source. Our isotope signatures of the investigated AM fungus support recent findings for mycoheterotrophic plants which are suggested to mirror the associated AM fungi isotope composition. Stable isotope natural abundances of intraradical AM hyphae as the functional trading organ for bi-directional carbon-for-mineral nutrient exchanges complement data on spores and membrane biomarkers.