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Marriage of convenience with a fungus
Date:5/22/2014

centration of catalpol. This defensive compound is not to be found at all in the other plant species, and the symbiosis with the fungus does not change this.

The researchers also found a conspicuous difference in the concentration of citric acid and chemically related compounds. When the plants were infected with the fungus, the concentrations dropped notably in ribwort plantain, broadleaf plantain, bird's-eye speedwell, and barrel medic. However, they tended to rise in annual meadow grass.

To carry out their study, the researchers dried and pulverized leaves from all five plant species. They then treated the powdered leaves of each plant with solvents, and analysed the resulting liquid samples with instruments that measure the concentrations of the individual substances. Finally, they analysed and compared the plant data with powerful computers. 'This gave us what you could call a metabolic fingerprint for each plant,' says Mller.

During their analyses, the scientists found that all the plants they tested had one thing in common: 'They all had more phosphorus in their leaves when they were in symbiosis with the fungus,' says the biologist Rabea Schweiger, who compared thousands of measured data for the study. However, here as well, each plant species functioned according to its own rules: 'It was exciting to see that the metabolism of each plant species reacted completely differently to the fungus and the dose of phosphorus it gave them,' says Schweiger.


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Contact: Dr. Caroline Müller
caroline.mueller@uni-bielefeld.de
49-521-106-5524
Bielefeld University
Source:Eurekalert  

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