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Abstract

In prairie restoration, use of seeds from nonlocal sources has been of concern to restorationists. We examined the specificity between vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi obtained from a single location and little bluestem obtained from three localities. Seed was obtained from three sources: (1) a commercial seed supplier in Nebraska, (2) Sand Ridge State Forest (SRSF), Mason County, Illinois, the site from which the experimental soil containing the mycorrhizal inoculum was obtained, and (3) Sand Prairie Scrub Oak Nature Preserve (SPSO), 32 km southwest of SRSF. Plants were grown in three substrates: (1) autoclaved soil, (2) autoclaved soil to which a mycorrhizal fungal-free sieving of nonautoclaved soil was added, and (3) nonautoclaved soil. All plants grown in nonautoclaved soil were colonized by mycorrhizal fungi, whereas none of those grown in other substrates were colonized. Plants grown from SRSF seeds produced significantly (p < 0.05) more biomass than those grown from Nebraska seeds (X̄± SE, SRSF = 0.54 ± 0.04 g, SPSO = 0.49 ± 0.03 g, Nebraska = 0.37 ± 0.03 g). Plants grown in nonautoclaved soil, regardless of seed source, produced less biomass (0.27 ± 0.02 g) than plants grown in autoclaved soil (0.58 ± 0.03 g) or autoclaved soil plus sievings (0.59 ± 0.03 g).

The results provide no clear indication of a host-endophyte specificity. However, the data suggest that the local genotypes of S. scoparium are better adapted to their native soil environment than are genotypes from other localities.