Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi influence water relations, gas exchange, abscisic acid and growth of micropropagated chile ancho pepper (Capsicum annuum) plantlets during acclimatization and post-acclimatization.

by Andres A. Estrada-Luna, Fred T. Davies Jr.

Little is known about the role of arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) on physiological changes of micropropagated plantlets during acclimatization and post-acclimatization. Using chile ancho pepper (Capsicum annuum L. cv. San Luis), measurements were made of water relations, gas exchanges, abscisic acid (ABA), plantlet growth and AMF development. Plantlets had low photosynthetic rates (A) and poor initial growth during acclimatization. Relative water content (RWC) decreased during the first days after transfer from tissue culture containers to ex vitro conditions. Consequently, transporation rates (E) and stomatal conductance (gs) declined, confirming that in vitro formed stomata were functional and able to respond ex vitro to partial desiccation - thus avoiding excessive leaf dehydration and plant death. Colonization by AMF occurred within 3 days after inoculation. Colonized plantlets had lower leaf ABA and higher RWC than noncolonized (NonAMF) plantlets during peak plant dehydration (6 days after plant transfer) - and a higher A and gs as early as days 5 and 7. During post-acclimatization [after day 8, when RWC increased and stabilized], A increased in all plantlets; however, more dramatic changes occurred with AMF plantlets. Within 48 days, 45% of the roots sampled of inoculated plantlets were colonized and had extensive arbuscule development. At this time, AMF plantlets also had greater E, A, leaf chlorophyll, leaf elemental N, P and K, leaf dry biomass and leaf area, fruit production and differences in carbon partitioning [lower root/shoot ration and higher leaf area ratio] compared with NonAMF plantlets. Rapid AMF colonization enhanced physiological adjustments, which helped plantlets recover rapidly during acclimatization and obtain greater growth during post-acclimatization.

J. Plant Physiol., Vol. 160, pp. 1073-1083, 2003.