Biotite and microcline as potassium sources in ectomycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal Pinus sylvestris seedlings
The aim of this study was to investigate the role of plants colonised by two ectomycorrhizal fungi, Paxillus involutus and Suillus variegatus, in mobilising potassium (K) from biotite and microcline, two minerals common in acid to medium-acid bedrock. This was carried out in a 33-week pot study with seedlings of Pinus sylvestris growing in symbiosis with the fungi, where no K was added or where K was added in the form of biotite or microcline. The mineral additions were similar to those found in natural soils. All seedlings, including non-mycorrhizal, were able to access the K in biotite, leading to stimulated growth and K uptake relative to controls. Microcline addition induced growth depression in all seedlings except those colonised by P. involutus, which were stimulated. The soil solution from S. variegatus-colonised seedlings grown with biotite had higher concentrations of citric and oxalic acid. Citric acid concentration was positively correlated to the fungal biomass (ergosterol) in the soil, as well as to the foliar K in S. variegatus-colonised seedlings. Seedlings growing without K addition had low K concentrations in the shoot. Magnesium (Mg) concentrations were enhanced in seedlings with severe K shortage, indicating that Mg can substitute for K, while calcium concentrations did not vary significantly.
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