Effect of Container Plant Growth Medium and Fertilizer Phosphorus on Establishment and Host Growth Response to Vesicular–Arbuscular Mycorrhizae

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331
  • | 2 Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Corvallis, OR 97330


The establishment and performance of vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM) formed by Glomus fasciculatum (Thaxter) Gerd. & Trappe were studied on geranium (Pelargonium × hortorum L.H. Bailey) and subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) in various growth media at 2 P fertility levels. Colonization by G. fasciculatum was not extensive and shoot dry weight and P uptake consequently were not increased by VAM in soilless media such as peat, bark, perlite, and vermiculite. In media containing soil and fertilized at the low P level, roots were colonized extensively by G. fasciculatum, and host shoot growth and P concentrations were increased by VAM. Host growth enhancement by VAM was not observed at the higher P fertility level. Differences in colonization and mycorrhizal response in different fertilized growth media were correlated negatively with the logarithm of the equilibrium solution P concentration. Colonization, growth response, and P uptake by geranium inoculated with G. mosseae (Nic. & Gerd.) Gerd. & Trappe or Acaulospora spinosa Walker & Trappe were affected by growth medium and P fertilizer in the same way as plants inoculated with G. fasciculatum. Peat mosses from different sources varied considerably in their effects on mycorrhiza formation by G. fasciculatum, and on growth response of geranium when the peat was diluted with different amounts of soil. These differences appeared to be related to the equilibrium solution P concentration of the fertilized peats, and not to extractable P of the unfertilized peats. Use of rock phosphate or bonemeal instead of NaH2PO4 as a source of P did not improve the establishment of VAM and host growth response in soil, peat, or vermiculite. Addition of 5–10% Turface, bentonite, silt loam soil, or clay subsoil to peat or vermiculite resulted in increased colonization of host roots and significant mycorrhizal growth response, whereas amendment with liquid sludge inhibited formation of mycorrhizae.

Contributor Notes

Graduate Research Assistant. Present address: 309 Creeks Edge, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

Research Plant Pathologist.

Received for publication December 4, 1982. Published as Technical Paper No. 6594 of the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the F.C. Gloeckner Foundation. Mention of a trade name does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by Oregon State University or the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture or an endorsement over other products not mentioned. The cost of publishing this paper was defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. Under postal regulations, this paper therefore must be hereby marked advertisement solely to indicate this fact.