The effects of micro-organisms on plant growth
I. Development of roots and root hairs in sand and agar
Article Received: 29 November 1960 Summary
Subterranean clover, tomato, phalaris, and radiata pine were grown with a complete plant- nutrient solution in sterile sand and agar and inoculated with soil suspensions prepared from unsterilized and from sterilized soil.
The presence of micro-organisms reduced primary-root growth in all plants and total root growth in most plants. The total numbers of secondary roots were lower in non-sterile treatments but there was a tendency for an increase in the concentrations of secondary roots with the non-sterile plants. Under the test conditions only radiata pine grown in sterile sand produced significantly greater top growth than those grown in the presence of micro-organisms. Root-stunting micro-organisms were shown to occur in each of four different soil types used in the studies but the extent of stunting varied with the soil. In agar, root stunting was observed at 5 days and 9 days after planting (and inoculation) with subterranean clover and tomato respectively.
Production and growth of root hairs by subterranean clover was markedly reduced by organisms from all four soils tested, the reduction varying with the soil. In contrast to root-stunting organisms, root-hair suppressing micro-organisms were abundant in soil. Root-hair suppression was apparent in sand after 3 days and is an inhibition of root-hair development rather than microbial digestion of existing root hairs. Only slight root-hair reduction was observed for tomato and phalaris.
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