EFFECTS OF PHOTON IRRADIANCE ON THE GROWTH OF SHOOTS AND ROOTS, ON THE RATE OF INITIATION OF MYCORRHIZAL INFECTION AND ON THE GROWTH OF INFECTION UNITS IN TRIFOLIUM SUBTERRANEUM L.

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SUMMARY

The effects of photon irradiance on the growth of young plants (up to three weeks old) of Trifolium subterraneum L. and on the development of mycorrhizal root systems were studied with plants grown in a soil/sand mixture inoculated with Glomus mosseae (Nicol. & Gerd.) Gerdemann & Trappe. Total plant growth was lower when photon irradiance was 100 μmol m−2 s−1, compared with 450 μmol m−2 s−1. Fresh weight of shoots was unaffected, but the fresh weight/dry weight ratio was increased at the lower irradiance in shoots, but not in roots. The main effect of decreased irradiance on the growth of the root system was a reduction in the numbers of first- and second-order lateral roots initiated. The average rate of extension of axial and lateral roots was only slightly reduced. The fraction of the root length infected was lower at the lower irradiance, particularly in the first two weeks. Development of infection was analyzed in terms of the role of formation of mycorrhizal entry-points (A) and the average rate of growth of infection units (B). Reduction in the fraction of the root length infected was found to be due to a reduction in A. B was remarkably constant at the two irradiances and in the different root subsystems. Thus both roots and infection units respond by making fewer units of unaltered rate of growth.

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