Mycorrhizal dependency of some endemic and endangered Hawaiian plant species

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Four endemic species of Hawaiian plants were tested for their response to inoculation with a Hawaiian isolate of Glomus aggregatum (an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus [AMF]) when grown in a native soil with or without P added to achieve different soil-solution P levels. The endangered species (Sesbania tomentosa [Fabaceae] and Colubrina oppositifolia [Rhamnaceae]) and two nonendangered species (Bidens sandvicensis and B. asymmetrica × sandvicensis [Asteraceae]) were tested. When soil-solution P levels in greenhouse trials were similar to unfertilized field soils (e.g., 0.005-0.020 mg P/L), shoots of inoculated plants were 2.1 to 7.0 times larger than noninoculated plants. Leaf tissue P levels and root biomass in these species showed similar responses to inoculation. Mycorrhizal dependencies ranging from 44 to 88% were measured when plants were grown in low-P soils and were -4-42% in soil with P levels typical of highly productive agricultural soils. A survey of P levels in a variety of native (nonagricultural) Hawaiian soils indicated the widespread occurrence of P-limited sites (mean = 0.010 mg P/L, range = <0.001-0.030 mg P/L; N = 41). The terms "ecological mycorrhizal dependency" (EMD) and "agricultural mycorrhizal dependency" (AMD) are introduced to refine the concept of mycorrhizal dependency.

Publication Title

American Journal of Botany