Additional info: The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: MEMEG (432112240), Nuclear Physics (Faculty of Technology) (011013007), Biodiversity (432112235)
We investigated the elemental composition of spores and hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) collected from two saline sites at the desert border in Tunisia, and of Glomus intraradices grown in vitro with or without addition of NaCl to the medium, by proton-induced X-ray emission. We compared the elemental composition of the field AMF to those of the soil and the associated plants. The spores and hyphae from the saline soils showed strongly elevated levels of Ca, Cl, Mg, Fe, Si, and K compared to their growth environment. In contrast, the spores of both the field-derived AMF and the in vitro grown G. intraradices contained lower or not elevated Na levels compared to their growth environment. This resulted in higher K:Na and Ca:Na ratios in spores than in soil, but lower than in the associated plants for the field AMF. The K:Na and Ca:Na ratios of G. intraradices grown in monoxenic cultures were also in the same range as those of the field AMF and did not change even when those ratios in the growth medium were lowered several orders of magnitude by adding NaCl. These results indicate that AMF can selectively take up elements such as K and Ca, which act as osmotic equivalents while they avoid uptake of toxic Na. This could make them important in the alleviation of salinity stress in their plant hosts.