, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 113-123
Date: 15 Nov 2008

Response of endangered plant species to inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and soil bacteria

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Abstract

Three endangered plant species, Plantago atrata and Pulsatilla slavica, which are on the IUCN red list of plants, and Senecio umbrosus, which is extinct in the wild in Poland, were inoculated with soil microorganisms to evaluate their responsiveness to inoculation and to select the most effective microbial consortium for application in conservation projects. Individuals of these taxa were cultivated with (1) native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) isolated from natural habitats of the investigated species, (2) a mixture of AMF strains available in the laboratory, and (3) a combination of AMF lab strains with rhizobacteria. The plants were found to be dependent on AMF for their growth; the mycorrhizal dependency for P. atrata was 91%, S. umbrosus-95%, and P. slavica-65%. The applied inocula did not significantly differ in the stimulation of the growth of P. atrata and S. umbrosus, while in P. slavica, native AMF proved to be the less efficient. We therefore conclude that AMF application can improve the ex situ propagation of these three threatened taxa and may contribute to the success of S. umbrosus reintroduction. A multilevel analysis of chlorophyll a fluorescence transients by the JIP test permitted an in vivo evaluation of plant vitality in terms of biophysical parameters quantifying photosynthetic energy conservation, which was found to be in good agreement with the results concerning physiological parameters. Therefore, the JIP test can be used to evaluate the influence of AMF on endangered plants, with the additional advantage of being applicable in monitoring in a noninvasive way the acclimatization of reintroduced species in nature.