Evaluation of commercial arbuscular mycorrhizal inocula in a sand/peat medium

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Eight commercial inocula of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) were tested for their ability to colonize plant roots in the sand/peat medium specified by the U.S. Golf Association for use in putting greens. Using the standard assay for potency of inocula (Zea mays grown for 6 weeks in containers), inocula were added at the rate recommended by the manufacturer as well as at five and ten times the recommended rate. To ensure that growth conditions were conducive to AM formation, a soil-based inoculum of native AMF also was assessed for inoculum potential. Only three of the commercial inocula formed mycorrhizas when used at the recommended rate, and the extent of colonization ranged from 0.4 to 8%. Increasing the amount of inoculum resulted in colonization levels of 8.6 to 72.5% at the highest rate (10×). Mean colonization using the native AMF was 60%. One inoculum that did not form mycorrhizas at the recommended rate or at 5× produced 8.6% colonization at 10×. An inoculum that did not produce mycorrhizas at any application rate did contain a fungus tentatively identified as a root pathogen (Olpidium brassicae) that colonized the corn roots. The failure of five of the eight commercial inocula to colonize roots when applied at the recommended rate suggests that preliminary trials should be made before commercial AMF inocula are used in important plantings. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.

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