, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 249-254

On the use of non-linear regression with the logistic equation for changes with time of percentage root length colonized by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

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Abstract 

For the regression of sigmoid-shaped responses with time t of colonization C of roots by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, C=C p/1+[e −k(t−ti) ] is the most useful form of the logistic equation. At the time of inflection t i the slope is maximal and directly proportional to the product of the colonization plateau C p and the abruptness k of the curve. Coefficient k has a high value when the curve rises abruptly following and preceding long shallow phases. The logistic equation has a curve that is symmetrical about t i such that C=C p/2 at inflection. Although the logistic equation can generate a good fit to many data sets for changes in colonization with time, there are cases that are not sigmoid and the logistic equation does not apply. For sigmoid curves, the lag in the development of colonization is directly related to both t i and k but not to the plateau and not to the value of the maximum slope. Higher values of k or t i reflect longer lag. When considered alone, t i and k do not fully summarize the lag in colonization, and so a numerical method to combine them is presented here which allows lag to be compared between curves. In this method, the lag is evaluated by calculating the time during early colonization when the slope equals half of the value of the maximum slope. In summary, use of the logistic equation for regression of sigmoid curves of colonization with time allows numerical comparison between curves of the lag, the period of steep ascent, and the plateau. The logistic equation does not model directly the fundamental processes at work in the development of the mycorrhizae. Instead, it can be used as described here to gain insight into the colonization process by comparing the dynamics of that colonization for different species under various conditions.

Accepted: 20 October 2000