The effect of soil pH on the ability of ectomycorrhizal fungi to increase the growth of Eucalyptus globulus Labill.
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We examined the effect of two levels of soil pH (5 and 6) on the ability (effectiveness) of ectomycorrhizal fungi to increase the growth of Eucalyptus globulus Labill. at a deficient supply of P. Plants were inoculated with one of six fungal isolates [Laccaria laccata (Scop. ex Fr.) Berk. and Br. (isolates A and B), Pisolithus tinctorius (Pers.) Coker and Couch (isolates A and B), Descolea maculata Bough. and Mal. and Setchelliogaster sp. nov.] and were grown in a P-deficient sand, in pots, in a temperature-controlled glasshouse. Seedlings were harvested 89 days after planting and were assessed for dry matter production, tissue P concentrations, ectomycorrhizal colonization of roots and hyphal development in soil.
Uninoculated plants had less than 5% of their fine root length colonized by ectomycorrhizal fungi. In contrast, inoculated plants had 30% or greater of their fine root length ectomycorrhizal. Inoculation increased the uptake of P and growth of plants for all isolates and at both levels of soil pH, although growth responses to inoculation were greater at pH 6, particularly for the two L. laccata isolates. Isolates which colonized roots most extensively increased plant growth to the greatest extent. D. maculata was the most effective fungal isolate at pH 5, and both D. maculata and L. laccata A were most effective at pH 6. The effects of soil pH on plant growth were also related to some extent to the effects of soil pH on colonized root length. Growth responses to inoculation were related less well to hyphal development in soil. The L. laccata isolates formed more hyphae in soil (on a per pot, per m of fine root, and per m of colonized fine root basis) than other fungal isolates, but were not always more effective in increasing plant grown.
Key wordscolonization ectomycorrhiza effectiveness external hyphae phosphorus nutrition soil pH
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