The influence of substrate pH on carbon translocation in ectomycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal pine seedlings



The effects of changed substrate pH on translocation and partitioning of 14C-labeled plant assimilates were examined in laboratory microcosms containing mycorrhizal (unidentified fungal isolate ‘Pink FMT 87:2’) and non-mycorrhizal seedlings of Pinus sylvestris L. and Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud. The mycorrhizal plants had intact mycelial systems at different developmental stages, and microcosms contained non-sterile peat (pH 3.8) or peat adjusted to different pH values with CaO. In systems with mycorrhizal mycelium which had just started to colonize the peat no significant differences in 14C assimilation were found, either with respect to substrate pH or mycorrhizal status of the plant. Loss of activity from the mycorrhizal plants was more rapid, however, probably mainly as a result of increased respiration from the infected root systems. After 8 wk growth in peat at pH 3.8 and 5.2 shoot weights of all seedlings were the same, whereas non-mycorrhizal plants had root systems twice the size of the mycorrhizal ones. In plants with well developed extramatrical mycelia translocation of labeled carbon to the mycelium growing at pH 3.8 was faster than that to mycelium growing at pH 5.2. After 4 d incubation, however, the percentage of the originally supplied carbon present in the mycelium was 5% regardless of substrate pH. Activity found in the peat surrounding non-mycorrhizal plants rarely exceeded 0.3%.