The growth response of Eucalyptus grandis x e. camaldulensis to salt stress, ectomycorrhizae and endomycorrhizae double colonisation

Hengari, Simeon Ngaitungue (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2007-03)

Thesis

The study was undertaken to determine the potential physiological benefits to plants provided by the double colonisation of host plant roots by endomycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, when growing under normal and under salt stress conditions. Plants of the Eucalyptus grandis x E. camaldulensis clone were grown in a sterile soil with 0 and 75 mM NaCl and with or without infection with the fungi Glomus etunicatum (an AM fungus) and Pisolithus tinctorius (an ECM fungus). The Eucalyptus clone formed both ECM and AM in single and double inoculation. The mycorrhizal symbiosis did not provide any nutritional benefits to the hosts. The double colonisation had no effect on plant growth under normal growth conditions while single colonisations of AM and ECM reduced growth. Double colonisation reduced host plant specific leaf mass by 12% and increased total leaf area by 43% compared with the control under these growth conditions. This colonisation also reduced photosynthesis per leaf area by 29% compared with the control. The reduced photosynthesis of the double colonisation did not result in reduced plant growth because these plants may have had a high total plant photosynthesis because of their large total leaf area. The double symbiosis however did not reduce salt stress when host plants were exposed to 75 mM NaCl, while the AM fungus increased plant dry weight by 13% compared to the control. AM and ECM colonisation in the double colonised roots under salt stress was decreased by 18 and 43% compared to that in plants under normal growth. The reduced colonisation may have reduced the fungi’s abilities to be beneficial to the host plant. The double symbiosis is recommended based on the documented positive effects of this symbiosis to plant growth and the considered possible long-term benefits to host plants growing in saline soils.

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