Mobilisation of potassium and phosphorus from iron ore by ectomycorrhizal fungi
Mutualistic roles of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi have been linked to their ability to produce organic acids that aid in the dissolution of insoluble minerals in the rhizosphere. This ability of ECM fungi was utilised to investigate their potential participation in the mobilisation of nutrients such as phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) from a typical insoluble ore-iron ore. In vitro pure cultures of four different ECM fungi; Pisolithus tinctorius, Paxillus involutus, Phialocephala fortini, and Suillus tomentosus were screened for their ability to mobilise P and K from two types of non-exportable Sishen iron ore. When present in iron ore, these elements are deleterious and reduce the commercial values of the ore. Experiment was set up with different treatments that included two ore types (KGT and SK) and five particle sizes of each ore type. Results indicated the potential of the four fungi to mobilise P and K from the two iron ore types though at different levels. Ore type, particle size, organic acid production and attachment of the fungi to the iron ore were all found to play important roles in the mobilisation of nutrients from these ores. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.