Microbial Ecology

, Volume 79, Issue 1, pp 98–109 | Cite as

Tripartite Interactions Between Endophytic Fungi, Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, and Leymus chinensis

  • Hui Liu
  • Man Wu
  • Jinming Liu
  • Yaobing Qu
  • Yubao Gao
  • Anzhi RenEmail author
Plant Microbe Interactions


Grasses often establish multiple simultaneous symbiotic associations with endophytic fungi and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Many studies have examined pair-wise interactions between plants and endophytic fungi or between plants and AMF, overlooking the interplays among multiple endosymbionts and their combined impacts on hosts. Here, we examined both the way in which each symbiont affects the other symbionts and the tripartite interactions between leaf endophytic fungi, AMF, and Leymus chinensis. As for AMF, different species (Glomus etunicatum, GE; Glomus mosseae, GM; Glomus claroideum, GC; and Glomus intraradices, GI) and AMF richness (no AMF, single AMF taxa, double AMF mixtures, triple AMF mixtures, and all four together) were considered. Our results showed that significant interactions were observed between endophytes and AMF, with endophytes interacting antagonistically with GM but synergistically with GI. No definitive interactions were observed between the endophytes and GE or GC. Additionally, the concentration of endophytes in the leaf sheath was positively correlated with the concentration of AMF in the roots under low AMF richness. The shoot biomass of L. chinensis was positively related to both endophyte concentration and AMF concentration, with only endophytes contributing to shoot biomass more than AMF. Endophytes and AMF increased shoot growth by contributing to phosphorus uptake. The interactive effects of endophytes and AMF on host growth were affected by the identity of AMF species. The beneficial effect of the endophytes decreased in response to GM but increased in response to GI. However, no influences were observed with other GC and GE. In addition, endophyte presence can alter the response of host plants to AMF richness. When leaf endophytes were absent, shoot biomass increased with higher AMF richness, only the influence of AMF species identity outweighed that of AMF richness. However, when leaf endophytes were present, no significant association was observed between AMF richness and shoot biomass. AMF species identity rather than AMF richness promoted shoot growth. The results of this study demonstrate that the outcomes of interspecific symbiotic interactions are very complex and vary with partner identity such that the effects of simultaneous symbioses cannot be generalized and highlight the need for studies to evaluate fitness response of all three species, as the interactive effects may not be the same for each partner.


Leymus chinensis AMF species identity AMF richness Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Endophyte Mutualism Context dependency 


Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program (2016YFC0500702) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (31570433).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui Liu
    • 1
  • Man Wu
    • 1
  • Jinming Liu
    • 1
  • Yaobing Qu
    • 1
  • Yubao Gao
    • 1
  • Anzhi Ren
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Life SciencesNankai UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China

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