Skip to main content

The effect of VA mycorrhizal fungi, phosphorus and drought stress on the growth of Acacia nilotica and Leucaena leucocephala seedlings


The effect of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi on growth and drought resistance of Acacia nilotica and Leucaena leucocephala seedlings was studied in a glasshouse experiment. The experimental design was a 2·2·2 factorial: ± mycorrhizal inoculation, ± application of phosphorus fertilizer and ± repeated drought treatment.

The growth promoting effect of VAM fungi equalled the effect of phosphorus fertilization after 12 weeks. The drought treatment reduced seedling biomass and nodulation. Differences between the plant species were found with respect to growth improvements due to VAM inoculation and/or phosphorus fertilization under drought stress conditions. The results are discussed in relation to plant drought resistance and reforestation in the subhumid to arid tropics.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Bethenfalway G J, Brown M S, Ames R N and Thomas R S 1988 Effects of drought on host and endophyte development in mycorrhizal soybeans in relation to water use and phosphate uptake. Physiol. Plant. 72, 565–571.

    Google Scholar 

  • Busse M D and Ellis J R 1985 Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (Glomus fasciculatum) influence on soybean drought tolerance in high phosphorus soil. Can. J. Bot. 63, 2290–2294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cornet F, Diem H G and Dommergues Y R 1982 Effet de l'inoculation avec Glomus mossae sur la croissance d'Acacia holosericea en pépinière et après transplantation sur le terrain. In Les Mycorrhizes: Biologie et Utilisation. Eds. SGianinazzi, VGianinazzi-Pearson and STrouvelot. pp 287–293. INRA Press, Paris.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fitter A H 1985 Functioning of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizas under field conditions. New Phytol. 99, 257–265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Giovanetti M and Mosse B 1980 An evaluation of techniques for measuring vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal infection in roots. New Phytol, 84, 489–500.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hepper C 1977 A colorimetric method for estimating vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal infection in roots. Soil Biol. Biochem. 9, 15–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang R-S, Smith W K and Yost R S 1985 Influence of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza on growth, water relations and leaf orientation in Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit. New Phytol. 99, 229–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jasper D A, Abbott L K and Robson A D 1985 Acacias respond to additions of phosphorus and to inoculation with VA mycorrhizal fungi in soils stockpiled during mineral sand mining. Plant and Soil 115, 99–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Michelsen A and Rosendahl S 1990 Propagule density of VA-mycorrhizal fungi in semi-arid bushland in Somalia. In Proceedings, IInd European Symposium on Mycorrhizae, Prague 1988. Elsevier, Amsterdam Academia, Prague. (In press.)

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller R M 1987 Mycorrhizae and succession. In Restoration Ecology. Eds. W RJordanIII, M EGilpin and J DAber. pp 205–219. Cambridge University Press, U K.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murphy J and Riley J P 1962 A modified single solution method for the determination of phosphate in natural waters. Anal. Chim. Acta 27, 31–36.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nelsen C E 1987 The water relations of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal systems. In Ecophysiology of VA Mycorrhizal Plants. Ed. G RSafir. pp 71–91. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nelsen C E and Safir G R 1982 Increased drought tolerance of mycorrhizal onion plants caused by improved phosphorus nutrition. Planta 154, 407–413.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Newman E I 1966 A method of estimating the total length of root in a sample. J. Appl. Ecol. 3, 139–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Romero A E, Ryder J, Fisher J T and Mexal J G 1986 Root system modification of container stock for arid land plantings. For. Ecol. Manage. 16, 281–290.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • SAS Institute 1985 SAS User's Guide: Statistics. Cary, NC, 956 p.

  • Sieverding E and Toro S T 1987 Growth of coffee and tea plants in nurseries inoculated with different VAM fungal species. In Proceedings of the 7th North American Conference on Mycorrhizae. Eds. D MSylvia, L LHung and J HGraham. p 58. IFAS, Gainesville, FL.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stribley D P, Tinker P B and Snellgrove R C 1980 Effect of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on the relations of plant growth, internal phosphorus concentration and soil phosphate analyses. J. Soil Sci. 31, 655–672.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Michelsen, A., Rosendahl, S. The effect of VA mycorrhizal fungi, phosphorus and drought stress on the growth of Acacia nilotica and Leucaena leucocephala seedlings. Plant Soil 124, 7–13 (1990).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Acacia nilotica
  • drought resistance
  • drought stress
  • Leucaena leucocephala
  • nodulation
  • reforestation
  • VA mycorrhizal fungi