Seasonal interactions and local adaptation between the plant, Geranium maculatum, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal symbionts
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We used the gynodioecious study system of Geranium maculatum to investigate the intricacies of the complex relationship between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). AMF form associations with over 80% of plant species, and little is known about their effects on the different sexes (female and hermaphrodite) of the gynodioecious systems. We took field colonization measurements during important plant phases to examine yearly fluctuations in association. We also conducted a common garden study to determine if there is adaptation between plants and their local AMF communities. We found evidence of varying colonization levels, coinciding with reproduction and vegetative phases. We also found some evidence of local adaptation and AMF community affects on flowering and leaf production. Better understanding this symbiotic system could lead to applications within the agriculture industry, using AMF mutualisms to enhance gynodioecious crop development, as well as contributing to the knowledge of symbiotic evolutionary relationships.