Mycorrhizal fungi associated with three species of turfgrass

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Small plots of highly maintained turfs of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris cv. Penncross) and velvet bentgrass (Agrostis canina cv. Kingstown) and a marginally maintained stand of annual bluegrass (Poa annua) were sampled intensively over a 15-month period to measure the populations of spores of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) associated with their root systems. Direct isolation of spores and trap cultures were used to assess the AMF communities. Spores of more than 18 species of AMF were isolated. The six dominant species (as measured by the abundance and frequency of occurrence of spores) were Acaulospora mellea, an undescribed species of Acaulospora, Scutellospora calospora, Glomus occultum, Glomus etunicatum, and Entrophospora infrequens. Spores of 17 species of AMF were recovered from the root zones of velvet bentgrass, 15 species from creeping bentgrass, and 14 from annual bluegrass. Soil fertility differed among the three sites, and it was not possible to ascribe differences in the AMF communities in each plot to any particular variable (e.g., host, pH, soil P). Average spore abundance was greatest in the creeping bentgrass plot (191.0 spores/100 mL), next in the velvet bentgrass plot (82.4 spores/100 mL), and least in the bluegrass plot (28.4 spores/100 mL). Spores were recovered from a significantly greater percentage of the samples from the bentgrass plots (88.5-96.8%) than from the bluegrass plot (76.6%). Spores of an average of 4.5 species of AMF were isolated monthly from creeping bentgrass, 3.3 from velvet bentgrass and 2.0 from bluegrass. Average species richness and spore abundance were positively correlated in the creeping bentgrass and bluegrass plots (r = 0.77, p = 0.001, and r = 0.68, p = 0,006), but not in the velvet bentgrass plot. Spore abundance showed strong seasonal trends in all three plots (p = 0.03-0.001), with numbers increasing from spring until November. Richness and abundance declined from December until the following spring. In the bluegrass area, which experienced summer drought, spore populations and richness also showed a precipitous decline in July and August in the 1st year of the study (1990), but not in the 2nd year (1991). No such summer decline occurred in the bentgrass plots that received irrigation. The AMF community that was circumscribed by direct spore counts from the field usually was highly dissimilar to the community that was estimated by trap cultures initiated using soil from the turf areas.

Publication Title

Canadian Journal of Botany