, Volume 310, Issue 1-2, pp 55-65
Date: 22 May 2008

Plant symbiotic microorganisms in acid sulfate soil: significance in the growth of pioneer plants

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Acid sulfate soil is generated by chemical and microbial oxidization of sulfide-rich minerals/sediments. Although revegetation of the soil is difficult due to low-pH and poor nutrient availability, pioneer plants may adapt to such an extreme environment via associating with mycorrhizal fungi and/or N-fixing bacteria for acquisition of mineral nutrients. In this study, an abandoned quarry in which acid sulfate soil was found was chosen to investigate the influence of soil acidity on the levels of colonization by the microsymbionts, the identities of the microsymbionts that associated with pioneer plants and the dependency of pioneer plants on the microsymbionts. The levels of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) colonization in pioneer grass, forbs and legume shrubs grown in the field were assessed, and no significant decline in the levels with an increase in soil acidity was observed. Most of the legume shrubs formed root nodules. Several AM fungi and bradyrhizobia were cultured from the rhizosphere soils of pioneer plants grown in the quarry and identified based on the sequences of the small subunit ribosomal RNA genes. Pot experiments revealed that the microsymbionts isolated from the field significantly promoted the growths of pioneer grasses and legume shrubs in acid sulfate soil at pH 3.4. These results suggest that plant–microbial symbiotic associations play significant roles in the growth of pioneer plants in acid sulfate soil.

Responsible Editor: F. Andrew Smith.