Plant and Soil

, Volume 412, Issue 1–2, pp 35–42 | Cite as

Sample storage conditions alter colonisation structures of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and, particularly, fine root endophyte

  • Suzanne OrchardEmail author
  • R. J. Standish
  • D. Nicol
  • I. A. Dickie
  • M. H. Ryan
Regular Article


Background and Aims

The structures of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi (hyphae, arbuscules, vesicles, spores) are used to make inferences about fungal activity based on stored samples, yet the impact of storage method has not been quantified, despite known effects of temperature and host condition on AM fungal colonisation.


We measured how four storage treatments (cool or ambient conditions, with and without plant shoots attached, i.e. n = four treatment combinations) affected AM fungal colonisation of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) after 0, 2, 6 and 10 days of storage. Roots were assessed for colonisation of fine root endophyte and coarse AM fungi.


For coarse AM fungi, total colonisation was unaffected, but arbuscules were reduced at Day 6 and increased again by Day 10, except Ambient-Minus-Shoots. There was a loss of vesicles in all treatments at Day 2, and an increase in spore number at Day 6 within Cool-Plus-Shoots. In contrast, for fine root endophyte, total colonisation was greatly reduced at Day 6 but increased again at Day 10, in all except the Cool-Plus-Shoots treatment.


Our data demonstrate that AM fungal activity is not suspended in commonly used plant storage conditions. Storage method and time impacted AM fungal colonisation, particularly for fine root endophyte. We recommend samples are processed within 2 days of harvest.


Arbuscules Fine endophyte Glomus tenue Mycorrhizal structures Plant sample storage Spores Vesicles 



This research formed part of a project supported by an Australian Government Postgraduate Award, a Meat and Livestock Australia Postgraduate Scholarship and a Henry Schapper Postgraduate Research Scholarship, and we gratefully acknowledge this funding. We wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne Orchard
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. J. Standish
    • 2
  • D. Nicol
    • 1
    • 3
  • I. A. Dickie
    • 4
  • M. H. Ryan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Plant Biology, and Institute of AgricultureThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.School of Veterinary & Life SciencesMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Agriculture and FoodDryland Research InstituteMerredinAustralia
  4. 4.Bio-Protection Research CentreLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand

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