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Schüßler, Arthur; Krüger, Claudia and Urgiles, Narcisa (2016): Phylogenetically diverse AM fungi from Ecuador strongly improve seedling growth of native potential crop trees. In: Mycorrhiza, Vol. 26, No. 3: pp. 199-207

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In many deforested regions of the tropics, afforestation with native tree species could valorize a growing reservoir of degraded, previously overused and abandoned land. The inoculation of tropical tree seedlings with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM fungi) can improve tree growth and viability, but efficiency may depend on plant and AM fungal genotype. To study such effects, seven phylogenetically diverse AM fungi, native to Ecuador, from seven genera and a non-native AM fungus (Rhizophagus irregularis DAOM197198) were used to inoculate the tropical potential crop tree (PCT) species Handroanthus chrysanthus (synonym Tabebuia chrysantha), Cedrela montana, and Heliocarpus americanus. Twenty-four plant-fungus combinations were studied in five different fertilization and AMF inoculation treatments. Numerous plant growth parameters and mycorrhizal root colonization were assessed. The inoculation with any of the tested AM fungi improved seedling growth significantly and in most cases reduced plant mortality. Plants produced up to threefold higher biomass, when compared to the standard nursery practice. AM fungal inoculation alone or in combination with low fertilization both outperformed full fertilization in terms of plant growth promotion. Interestingly, root colonization levels for individual fungi strongly depended on the host tree species, but surprisingly the colonization strength did not correlate with plant growth promotion. The combination of AM fungal inoculation with a low dosage of slow release fertilizer improved PCT seedling performance strongest, but also AM fungal treatments without any fertilization were highly efficient. The AM fungi tested are promising candidates to improve management practices in tropical tree seedling production.

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