Field response of wheat to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and drought stress

Ghazi Al-Karaki, B. McMichael, John Zak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

238 Scopus citations


Mycorrhizal plants often have greater tolerance to drought than nonmycorrhizal plants. This study was conducted to determine the effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi inoculation on growth, grain yield and mineral acquisition of two winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars grown in the field under well-watered and water-stressed conditions. Wheat seeds were planted in furrows after treatment with or without the AM fungi Glomus mosseae or G. etunicatum. Roots were sampled at four growth stages (leaf, tillering, heading and grain-filling) to quantify AM fungi. There was negligible AM fungi colonization during winter months following seeding (leaf sampling in February), when soil temperature was low. During the spring, AM fungi colonization increased gradually. Mycorrhizal colonization was higher in well-watered plants colonized with AM fungi isolates than water-stressed plants. Plants inoculated with G. etunicatum generally had higher colonization than plants colonized with G. mosseae under both soil moisture conditions. Biomass and grain yields were higher in mycorrhizal than nonmycorrhizal plots irrespective of soil moisture, and G. etunicatum inoculated plants generally had higher biomass and grain yields than those colonized by G. mosseae under either soil moisture condition. The mycorrhizal plants had higher shoot P and Fe concentrations than nonmycorrhizal plants at all samplings regardless of soil moisture conditions. The improved growth, yield and nutrient uptake in wheat plants reported here demonstrate the potential of mycorrhizal inoculation to reduce the effects of drought stress on wheat grown under field conditions in semiarid areas of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Drought stress
  • Triticum aestivum
  • Yield


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