Despite the awareness that high phosphorus (P) availability decreases the mycorrhizal root colonization in higher plants, the effects on the external mycelium are contradicting. The aim of this work was to assess the external mycelium of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) Glomus intraradices and Gigaspora rosea, associated to soybean under increasing P levels (0, 25, 50, 100 and 200 mg kg-1). The tested hypotheses were: a) the amount of external mycelium depends on the fungal species; b) the P levels affect diferentially each mycorrhizal species; c) the mycorrhizal effectiveness depends on the amount of external mycelium. Mycorrhizal stimulus on plant biomass occurred at P levels of 0, 25 and 200 mg kg-1. Mycorrhizal root colonization and total external mycelium (TEM) decreased with increasing P levels. At zero P level, G. rosea produced less TEM than G. intraradices, which may be related to the lower mycorrhizal effectiveness for G. rosea. Both AMF increased the active external mycelium along P levels, but this increase was not related with symbiotic effectiveness. TEM was found to be closely related to root colonization and mycorrhizal effectiveness. The root colonization and TEM are mutually afected by P availability. Althoug G. intraradices produced more TEM than G. rosea along the P levels, they seemed to affect similarly the TEM for both AMF. More AMF species should be assessed in order to attest whether P levels affect the external mycelium differentially among them.
arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; external mycelium; soybean