Root herbivores and plant mutualists, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), have a significant effect on the structure and dynamic of plant communities. Nevertheless, the interactions between the two groups of organisms in natural ecosystems are far from understood. We carried out an inoculation experiment to examine the effect of two root herbivores, Pratylenchus penetrans and P. dunensis (Nematoda), on the composition of the AMF communities associated with two populations of the dune grass Ammophila arenaria. The outcome of the interaction in terms of plant and nematode performance was also analyzed. The total percentage of AMF colonization was not affected by the presence of root-feeders, but they did alter the composition of the AMF communities inside the roots. These changes were dependent on the root-feeder species and the original AMF community: the most severe alterations were observed in the mycorrhizal plants from Wales attacked by P. penetrans. Plant growth was impaired in plants from Wales inoculated with AMF and P. dunensis, which suggests a highly species-specific synergistic interaction with negative consequences for the plant. Root infection by the nematodes was reduced in all mycorrhizal plants when compared to non-mycorrhizal plants. However, a significant reduction of the final number of nematodes was observed only in the mycorrhizal plants from one population.
Rodríguez-Echeverría, S., de la Peña, E., Moens, M., Freitas, H., & Van der Putten, W. H. (2009). Can root-feeders alter the composition of AMF communities? Experimental evidence from the dune grass Ammophila arenaria. Basic and Applied Ecology, 10(2), 131-140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2008.01.004