Ecophysiology of ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with Pinus spp. in low rainfall areas of Western Australia

T.L. Bell, M.A. Adams

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    As a potential means of monitoring functional properties of plantations of Pinus pinaster and Pinus radiata established as part of land rehabilitation in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, we examined aspects of the ecophysiology of ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with tree roots. A single species of ectomycorrhizal fungi, Rhizopogon roseolus, dominated the mycorrhizal flora. Sporocarps of Rhizopogon roseolus appeared with the onset of winter rains in May, increased in number and total biomass to peak in September, and decreased to negligible levels at the beginning of the summer drought in December. A greater number of sporocarps, and consequently a greater biomass of sporocarp tissue, was associated with roots of P. radiata than P. pinaster. A similar seasonal pattern of rnycorrhizal root infection was determined by counts of individual ectomycorrhizal root tips from bimonthly collection of soil core samples. At the low rainfall (380 mm annually) site, greater numbers of live root tips were more strongly correlated with soil moisture than organic matter content of soil. In contrast, in wetter areas closer to Perth (800 mm annually), highest numbers of active root tips and greatest amounts of organic matter were both within 0-10 cm depths. Results suggest an overriding importance of soil moisture rather than nutrient status of the soil as the key determinant of spatial and temporal distribution of the fungus. Results from a range of assays determining enzyme activity of soil (protease, phosphomonoesterase, cellulase, L-asparaginase, L-glutaminase and beta-glucosidase) Surrounding mycorrhizal roots indicated seasonal patterns to be similar to those described for reproductive activity of mycorrhizal fungi. Factors responsible for patterns of seasonal activity and distribution of ectomycorrhizal roots are discussed in terms of managing systems in order to maximise tree growth and form while effectively restoring soil water balance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-52
    JournalPlant Ecology
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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