Mycorrhizal symbiosis represents a valuable tool for increasing plant nutrient uptake, affecting system biodiversity, ecosystem services and productivity. Introduction of agroecological service crops (ASCs) in cropping systems may determine changes in weed community, that can affect the development of the mycorrhizal mycelial network in the rhizosphere, favoring or depressing the cash crop mycorrhization. Two no-till Mediterranean organic horticultural systems were considered: one located in central Italy, where organic melon was transplanted on four winter-cereals mulches (rye, spelt, barley, wheat), one located in southern Italy (Sicily), where barley (as catch crop) was intercropped in an organic young orange orchard, with the no tilled, unweeded systems taken as controls. Weed “Supporting Arbuscular Mycorrhiza” (SAM) trait, weed density and biodiversity indexes, mycorrhization of coexistent plants in the field, the external mycelial network on roots were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy, crop P uptake, yield and quality were evaluated. We verified that cereals, used as green mulches or intercropped, may drive the weed selection in favor of the SAM species, and promote the mycelial network, thus significantly increasing the mycorrhization, the P uptake, the yield and quality traits of the cash crop. This is a relevant economic factor when introducing sustainable cropping practices and assessing the overall functionality of the agroecosystem.
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