Mycorrhizal effects on crop yield and soil ecosystem functions in a long-term tillage and fertilization experiment

Zhenling Peng, Nancy Collins Johnson, Jan Jansa, Jiayao Han, Zhou Fang, Yali Zhang, Shengjing Jiang, Hao Xi, Lin Mao, Jianbin Pan, Qi Zhang, Huyuan Feng, Tinglu Fan, Jianjun Zhang, Yongjun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


It is well understood that agricultural management influences arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, but there is controversy about whether farmers should manage for AM symbiosis. We assessed AM fungal communities colonizing wheat roots for three consecutive years in a long-term (> 14 yr) tillage and fertilization experiment. Relationships among mycorrhizas, crop performance, and soil ecosystem functions were quantified. Tillage, fertilizers and continuous monoculture all reduced AM fungal richness and shifted community composition toward dominance of a few ruderal taxa. Rhizophagus and Dominikia were depressed by tillage and/or fertilization, and their abundances as well as AM fungal richness correlated positively with soil aggregate stability and nutrient cycling functions across all or no-tilled samples. In the field, wheat yield was unrelated to AM fungal abundance and correlated negatively with AM fungal richness. In a complementary glasshouse study, wheat biomass was enhanced by soil inoculum from unfertilized, no-till plots while neutral to depressed growth was observed in wheat inoculated with soils from fertilized and conventionally tilled plots. This study demonstrates contrasting impacts of low-input and conventional agricultural practices on AM symbiosis and highlights the importance of considering both crop yield and soil ecosystem functions when managing mycorrhizas for more sustainable agroecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1798-1813
Number of pages16
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2024


  • ecosystem services
  • fertilization
  • multifunctionality
  • mycorrhizal fungi
  • soil aggregation
  • sustainable agroecosystems
  • tillage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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