Higher temperatures and lower annual rainfall do not restrict, directly or indirectly, the mycorrhizal colonization of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) under rainfed conditions.PLoS One. 2020; 15(11):e0241794.Plos
Whereas the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in plant growth improvement has been well described in agroecosystems, little is known about the effect of environmental factors on AMF root colonization status of barley, the fourth most important cereal crop all over the world. In order to understand the influence of environmental factors, such as climatic and soil physico-chemical properties, on the spontaneous mycorrhizal ability of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a field investigation was conducted in 31 different sites in sub-humid, upper and middle semi-arid areas of Northern Tunisia. Mycorrhizal root colonization of H. vulgare varied considerably among sites. Principal component analysis showed that barley mycorrhization is influenced by both climatic and edaphic factors. A partial least square structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) revealed that 39% (R²) of the total variation in AMF mycorrhizal rate of barley roots was mainly explained by chemical soil properties and climatic characteristics. Whereas barley root mycorrhizal rates were inversely correlated with soil organic nitrogen (ON), available phosphorus amounts (P), altitude (Z), average annual rainfall (AAR), they were directly correlated with soil pH and temperature. Our results indicated that AMF root colonization of barley was strongly related to climatic characteristics than chemical soil properties. The current study highlights the importance of the PLS-SEM to understand the interactions between climate, soil properties and AMF symbiosis of barley in field conditions.