Is there a role for arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in production agriculture?
- Cite this article as:
- Ryan, M.H. & Graham, J.H. Plant and Soil (2002) 244: 263. doi:10.1023/A:1020207631893
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This review presents the point of view that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) do not play a vital role in the nutrition and growth of plants in many production-orientated agricultural systems. Highly available soil P often limits AM colonisation and causes the C-costs to the host to outweigh any benefits from colonisation. Even when P availability is low and AM colonisation levels are high, as may occur in organic and biodynamic agricultural systems, AMF may not always contribute to plant growth for reasons not yet understood. AM fungal activity may also be greatly limited by soil fumigation, non-responsive plant varieties, or rotations based primarily on non-mycorrhizal crops or crops of low AM dependency. Thus, profitability may sometimes be enhanced by management practices, such as tillage and P-fertilisation, which limit AM colonisation. Manipulation of agricultural systems to favour AMF must occur only if there is clear evidence that AMF make a positive contribution to yield or are vital for maintenance of ecosystem health and sustainability. A crucial role for AMF in soil structural stability or in enhancing micronutrient concentrations in produce may be sufficient evidence and may eventually compel consideration of AMF responsiveness when breeding new crop varieties.