, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 11-17
Date: 09 Jul 2005

Contrasting responses to ectomycorrhizal inoculation in seedlings of six tropical African tree species

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Five caesalpinioid legumes, Afzelia africana, Afzelia bella, Anthonotha macrophylla, Cryptosepalum tetraphylum and Paramacrolobium coeruleum, and one Euphorbiaceae species, Uapaca somon, with a considerable range in seed sizes, exhibited different responses to inoculation by four species of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, Scleroderma dictyosporum, S. verrucosum, Pisolithus sp. and one thelephoroid sp. in greenhouse conditions. Thelephoroid sp. efficiently colonized seedlings of all of the five caesalpinioid legumes except U. somon, but provided no more growth benefit than the other fungi. Thelephoroid sp. and S. dictyosporum colonized seedlings of U. somon poorly, but stimulated plant growth more than the other fungi. The relative mycorrhizal dependency (RMD) values of the caesalpinioid legumes were never higher than 50%, whilst U. somon had RMD values ranging from 84.6 to 88.6%, irrespective of the fungal species. The RMD values were negatively related to seed mass for all plant species. Potassium concentrations in leaves were more closely related than phosphorus to the stimulation of seedling biomass production by the ECM fungi. Our data support the hypothesis that African caesalpinioid legumes and euphorbe tree species with smaller seeds show higher RMD values than those with the larger seeds.