Characterisation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonisation in cluster roots of Hakea verrucosa F. Muell (Proteaceae), and its effect on growth and nutrient acquisition in ultramafic soil

F.M. Boulet, Hans Lambers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ultramafic soils at Bandalup Hill (Western Australia) are characterised by high concentrations of Ni and low levels of P. Amongst the plant species that can sustain such hostile conditions, Hakea verrucosa F. Muell from a non-mycorrhizal family (Proteaceae) would be expected to rely on cluster roots to access P. However, the acidification of ultramafic soils by cluster roots might increase the dissolution of soil Ni, and therefore its availability to plants. Symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi, on the other hand, might help to reduce the uptake of Ni by H. verrucosa. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the mycorrhizal status of H. verrucosa, and assess any contribution from mycorrhizal fungi to its growth and nutrient status. Seedlings of H. verrucosa were first grown in undisturbed ultramafic soil cores from Bandalup Hill for 8 weeks to assess the presence of mycorrhizal fungi in their roots. In a second experiment, H. verrucosa seedlings were grown in the same ultramafic soil that was either steamed or left untreated. Seedlings were inoculated with an arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal consortium from Bandalup Hill. Fungal hyphae, vesicles, as well as intracellular arbuscules and hyphal coils were observed in the cluster roots of H. verrucosa in both experiments. In the first experiment, 57% of the root length was colonized by AM fungi. Seedlings had high (between 1.4 and 1.9) shoot to root ratios and their roots had very few root hairs, despite growing in P-deficient soil. Steaming of the ultramafic soil increased the growth of seedlings and their nutrient uptake. Inoculation with AM fungi reduced the seedling growth in steamed ultramafic soil; however, it increased their shoot P and K concentration and also the shoot K content. The shoot Ni concentration of seedlings was not affected by the presence of AM fungi.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-367
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume269
Issue number1/2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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