Mycorrhizae and succession in plantings of beachgrass in sand dunes

Document Type


Date of Original Version



A survey of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), and hyphal networks of AMF was carried out in sand dune sites of different successional stages in the Province Lands area of Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts. The study focused on large-scale plantings (each of 12-20 ha) of American beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata) aged 0-7 yr and five adjacent natural dune areas. Sample sites ranged in vegetative cover from barren to forested. Spores of 17 species of AMF were recovered from the dunes. Over the successional sequence, there were increases in the richness and spore populations of the AMF community, the extent of colonization of A. breviligulata roots, and the mycorrhizal inoculum potential of the soil. Unvegetated sites lacked propagules of AMF, but roots of planted culms of A. breviligulata (which carried propagules of AMF) became mycorrhizal in <1 yr after planting. Spores were recovered from previously AMF-free sites that had been planted with beachgrass for 47 wk, and five species of AMF sporulated in sites <6 yr old. Significant hyphal networks were not present in any of the planted areas (<6 yr old at the time of sampling), but did occur in natural areas. The rate of invasion of areas planted to A. breviligulata by later successional plant species may in part depend upon the establishment of a vigorous network of hyphae of AMF in a site.

Publication Title

American Journal of Botany