Determining the impact of both environmental variation and developmental stage on plant-mycorrhizal associations is important, as both can shift the association along the mutualism-parasitism continuum. This study examines the effect of phosphorus level on the response of Allium vineale to mycorrhizae across all plant life stages, including plant fecundity and the relative allocation of resources to three different reproductive modes (flowers, asexual underground offsets, and asexual aerial bulbils). For A. vineale, the impact of mycorrhizae varies significantly with life stage, as an early growth depression at 1 mo was reversed by 15 mo, resulting in mycorrhizal plants having larger bulbs over all P levels and producing more bulbils and larger offsets than nonmycorrhizal plants at lower P levels. However the presence of mycorrhizae did not affect the relative allocation of resources among the three reproductive modes. These results emphasize the importance of long-term studies of plant-mycorrhizal interactions that include fecundity estimates. In addition, they indicate that spatial variation in nutrient availability in the field has the potential to shift the overall effect of mycorrhizae from beneficial to neutral, with greater benefits found in sites with lower phosphorus levels.
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