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Effects of ectomycorrhizas and vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizas, alone or in competition, on root colonization and growth of Eucalyptus globulus and E. urophylla

  • Y. L. CHEN (a1), M. C. BRUNDRETT (a2) and B. DELL (a3)
    • Published online: 01 June 2000
Abstract

Eucalyptus species are considered to have ectomycorrhizas (ECM), but many also have vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizas (VAM) and their relative importance is unclear. Interactions between ECM and VAM fungi colonizing roots of Eucalyptus species were examined in a glasshouse experiment. This experiment investigated competition between these two types of fungi and compared benefits provided to Eucalyptus globulus and E. urophylla. Eucalyptus seedlings were inoculated with spores of the ECM fungus Laccaria lateritia and/or pot- culture soil for a VAM fungus (species of Glomus, Acaulospora or Scutellospora). Initial inoculum levels were important, as VAM fungi became established much more rapidly than Laccaria. In plants with both types of mycorrhizas, Laccaria mycorrhizas substantially increased after 2 or 3 months and the proportion of roots with VAM declined. However, the proportion of roots with VAM also decreased significantly in plants without ECM after 2 months. Thus, the relative susceptibility of eucalypt roots to these mycorrhizal associations changed. Substantial growth responses to mycorrhizal inoculation occurred when a low concentration of phosphorus fertilization was used (5 mg kg−1), but not at a higher concentration (10 mg kg−1). Treatments where Laccaria was applied, alone or in combination with a VAM fungus, resulted in the largest growth increases relative to nonmycorrhizal plants. An Acaulospora isolate was the most effective VAM fungus for E. urophylla although other VAM fungi also increased growth relative to the control. VAM fungi alone had little effect on E. globulus growth, but plants inoculated with both ECM and VAM fungi were larger than plants only inoculated with Laccaria. ECM fungi had a major impact on root system form by reducing the proportion of fine roots (specific root length) relative to nonmycorrhizal plants or those with VAM. Changes in root colonization patterns over time must be considered in studies of ECM/VAM interactions, as there can be substantial changes in the relative importance of the two associations.

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Corresponding author
Author for correspondence (tel +61 89 360 2875; +61 89 360 6303; dell@central.murdoch.edu.au).
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The New Phytologist
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  • URL: /core/journals/new-phytologist
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