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Title: Plant carbohydrate depletion impairs water relations and spreads via ectomycorrhizal networks

Under prolonged drought and reduced photosynthesis, plants consume stored nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs). Stored NSC depletion may impair the regulation of plant water balance, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood, and whether such mechanisms are independent of plant water deficit is not known. If so, carbon costs of fungal symbionts could indirectly influence plant drought tolerance through stored NSC depletion.

We connected well‐wateredPinus ponderosaseedling pairs via ectomycorrhizal (EM) networks where one seedling was shaded (D) and the other kept illuminated (LD) and compared responses to seedling pairs in full light (L). We measured plant NSCs, osmotic and water potential, and transfer of13CO2through EM to explore mechanisms linking stored NSCs to plant water balance regulation and identify potential tradeoffs between plant water retention and EM fungi under carbon‐limiting conditions.

NSCs decreased from L to LD to D seedlings. Even without drought, NSC depletion impaired osmoregulation and turgor maintenance, both of which are critical for drought tolerance. Importantly, EM networks propagated NSC depletion and its negative effects on water retention from carbon stressed to nonstressed hosts.

We demonstrate that NSC storage depletion influences turgor maintenance independently of plant water deficit and reveal carbon allocation tradeoffs between supporting fungal symbionts and retaining water.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
New Phytologist
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 3172-3183
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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