• autofluorescence;
  • stains;
  • Chlorazol Black;
  • Trypan Blue;
  • Acid Fuchsin;
  • arbuscular mycorrhiza

The extent of arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization was assessed in 10 field-collected plant species, representing three annual forbs, three perennial forbs, three perennial grasses and one annual grass. Each root system of each plant was split into four portions, and for each portion, mycorrhizal structures were revealed with epifluorescence microscopy (under which only arbuscules are generally visible) and three commonly used stains (Chlorazol Black E, Acid Fuchsin and Trypan Blue). The aim of the study was not to evaluate the efficacy of each method, but to compare results obtained by each under standard laboratory conditions. The recorded colonization levels of arbuscules, total arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal material and total fungal (arbuscular mycorrhizal+non-arbuscular mycorrhizal) material differed significantly between visualization methods in a number of species. However, there were also interactions between stain and plant species, indicating that the performance of a stain is dependent on the plant species being examined. In some cases (e.g. Plantago lanceolata), each visualization method produced the same colonization level, while in others (e.g. Dactylis glomerata), each method gave a different result. These data therefore suggest that the level of mycorrhizal colonization recorded in any particular plant species at a particular time is dependent on the technique employed.