Growth and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Colonization of Two Prairie Grasses Grown in Soil from Restorations of Three Ages


  • Roger C. Anderson

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    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics Section, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 62901-4120, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence to R. C. Anderson, email


I compared growth and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) colonization of two prairie grasses (Wild rye [Elymus canadensis] and Little bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium]), an early- and a late-dominating species in prairie restorations, respectively, grown in soil from restored prairies of differing age, soil characteristics, and site history. There were no consistent patterns between restoration age and soil inorganic nutrients or organic matter. The oldest restoration site had higher soil mycorrhizal inoculum potential (MIP) than 2- and 12-year-old restorations. However, MIP did not translate into actual colonization for two species grown in soils from the three restorations, nor did MIP relate to phosphorus availability. There were significant differences in root mass and colonization among Wild rye plants but not among Little bluestem plants grown in soils from the three restorations. Wild rye grown in 2-year-old restoration soil had significantly higher AMF colonization than when it was grown in soils from the 12- and 17-year-old restorations. Wild rye grown in 2-year-old restoration soil also had higher colonization than Little bluestem grown in 2- and 12-year-old restoration soils. Little bluestem had no significant correlations between shoot biomass, root biomass or colonization, and concentrations of soil P, total N, or N:P. However, for Wild rye, total soil N was positively correlated with root mass and negatively correlated with colonization, suggesting that in this species, mycorrhizae may affect N availability. Collectively, these results suggest that soil properties unrelated to restoration age were important in determining differences in growth and AMF colonization of two species of prairie grasses.