Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on rice-herbivore interactions are soil-dependent.
The effect of soil type on establishment of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, and their effects on plant growth and resistance to rice pests are poorly understood. We investigated the effects of inoculation with AM fungi on rice plants in two different unsterilized field soils under greenhouse and field conditions in two consecutive years in Louisiana, United States. We tested whether inoculation with AM fungi in the two soils changed plant biomass, nutrient concentration, resistance to pests, and yields. Inoculation with a commercial formulation of AM fungi increased root colonization by fungi in all soils, regardless of soil P availability; it also increased densities of root-feeding rice water weevil larvae and growth of leaf-feeding fall armyworm larvae, but these effects were soil-dependent. Inoculation with AM fungi had no effect on N and P concentrations or rice yields. The effect on plant biomass was also soil-dependent. Our study provides evidence for the first time that inoculation with AM fungi can increase colonization of roots of rice plants, but the effects of colonization on resistance to pests and plant biomass appear to be soil dependent. Moreover, the increased susceptibility to pests of rice colonized by AM fungi does not appear to be related to nutrient concentrations.