Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Improve the Performance of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon Facing Water Deficit under Current and Future Climatic Conditions

Plants (Basel). 2024 Apr 22;13(8):1155. doi: 10.3390/plants13081155.


Climate change (CC) threatens Mediterranean viticulture. Rhizospheric microorganisms may be crucial for the adaptation of plants to CC. Our objective was to assess whether the association of two grapevine varieties with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) increases grapevine's resilience to environmental conditions that combine elevated atmospheric CO2, increased air temperatures, and water deficit. Tempranillo (T) and Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) plants, grafted onto R110 rootstocks, either inoculated (+M) or not (-M) with AMF, were grown in temperature-gradient greenhouses under two environmental conditions: (i) current conditions (ca. 400 ppm air CO2 concentration plus ambient air temperature, CATA) and (ii) climate change conditions predicted by the year 2100 (700 ppm of CO2 plus ambient air temperature +4 °C, CETE). From veraison to maturity, for plants of each variety, inoculation treatment and environmental conditions were also subjected to two levels of water availability: full irrigation (WW) or drought cycles (D). Therefore, the number of treatments applied to each grapevine variety was eight, resulting from the combination of two inoculation treatments (+M and -M), two environmental conditions (CATA and CETE), and two water availabilities (WW and D). In both grapevine varieties, early drought decreased leaf conductance and transpiration under both CATA and CETE conditions and more markedly in +M plants. Photosynthesis did not decrease very much, so the instantaneous water use efficiency (WUE) increased, especially in drought +M plants under CETE conditions. The increase in WUE coincided with a lower intercellular-to-atmospheric CO2 concentration ratio and reduced plant hydraulic conductance. In the long term, mycorrhization induced changes in the stomatal anatomy under water deficit and CETE conditions: density increased in T and decreased in CS, with smaller stomata in the latter. Although some responses were genotype-dependent, the interaction of the rootstock with AMF appeared to be a key factor in the acclimation of the grapevine to water deficit under both current and future CO2 and temperature conditions.

Keywords: climate change; gas exchange; grapevine; mycorrhizal fungi; water relations.