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Analysis of the mycorrhizal potential in the rhizosphere of representative plant species from desertification-threatened Mediterranean shrublands

AuthorsAzcón González de Aguilar, Concepción; Palenzuela Jiménez, E. J.; Roldán Garrigos, Antonio ; Bautista, S.; Vallejo García, Raquel; Barea Navarro, José Miguel
KeywordsArbuscular mycorrhiza
Degraded Mediterranean ecosystems
Restoration ecology
Revegetation strategies
Issue DateJan-2003
CitationApplied Soil Ecology 22(1): 29-37(2003)
AbstractAn evaluation of the mycorrhizal status of desertification-threatened ecosystems has been recommended as a first step in rehabilitation/restoration approaches based on revegetation strategies using arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) technology. Representative desertified semiarid areas were selected from southeast Spain where the vegetation is dominated by grasses, with Stipa tenacissima usually present, and with some patches of the shrubs Pistacia lentiscus, Rhamnus lycioides, Olea europaea subsp. sylvestris and Retama sphaerocarpa. The objective of this study was to evaluate the mycorrhizal potential in these soils, the contribution of the different species established to the mycorrhizal potential of the soils and to assess the main mycorrhizal propagules involved. There were more AM fungal propagules in the rhizospheres of all the shrub species studied compared with adjacent fallow soils, suggesting that AM propagules can be considered as a functional component of the resource islands developing around plant roots. R. sphaerocarpa and O. europaea had a higher capacity to enhance the development of mycorrhizal propagules in their rhizospheres than R. lycioides and P. lentiscus. Correlation analyses showed that the number of spores of the most representative AM fungal species, i.e. Glomus constrictum, and the total length of extraradical AM mycelium are the propagule sources which were best correlated with the mycorrhizal potential in terms of the number of “infective” AM propagules in the rhizosphere of the target plant species. The contribution of AM symbiosis to the potentiality of S. tenacissima as nurse plant was site dependent. Diversity of AM fungi present in the test area is rather low, indicating the high degree of degradation of the ecosystem. At most, only four AM fungal spore morphoecotypes were consistently detected in the rhizosphere of the target plant species.
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