Most plants are usually colonized with arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) in the fields. AMF absorb mineral nutrients, especially phosphate, from the soil and transfer them to the host plants. Inoculation with exotic AMF is thought to be effective when indigenous AMF performance is low; however, there is no method for evaluating the performance of indigenous AMF. In this study, we developed a method to investigate the performance of indigenous AMF in promoting plant growth. As Lotus japonicus mutant (str) that are unable to form functional mycorrhizal roots were considered to be symbiosis negative for indigenous mycorrhizal performance, we examined the growth ratios of wild-type and str mycorrhizal mutant using 24 soils. Each soil had its own unique indigenous mycorrhizal performance, which was not directly related to the colonization level of indigenous AMF or soil phosphate level. The low indigenous mycorrhizal performance could not be compensated by the inoculation of exotic AMF. Importantly, indigenous mycorrhizal performance was never negative; however, the inoculation of exotic AMF into the same soil led to both positive and negative performances. These results suggest that indigenous mycorrhizal performance is affected by soil management history and is basically harmless to the plant.
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