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F. Ponton, Y. Piché, S. Parent, and M. Caron

The horticultural Boston fern [Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott cv. Verona] was micropropagated in vitro using commercial techniques. Rooted plantlets were transferred into pots containing one of three test substrates made of peat and vermiculite and subsequently inoculated with one of two species of Glomus. Survival of uninoculated control plants growing on a black peat-based mix was less than that on a brown peat-based mix. Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) inoculation significantly increased survival on the former, but not the latter, substrate. The growth of roots was enhanced in brown peatmoss, but VAM colonization was faster with black peatmoss. Compared to uninoculated controls growing under the same fertilization regime, inoculated plants had significantly higher frond P and N concentration and also showed better frond and root growth. On a growth-increment basis, our results suggested that the brown peat-based mixed was more suitable for fungal activity and fern growth.

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H. Wang, S. Parent, A. Gosselin, and Y. Desjardins

Micropropagated plantlets of Gerbera jamesonii H. Bolus ex Hook. F. `Terra Mix', Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott `Florida Ruffles', and Syngonium podophyllum Schott `White Butterfly' were inoculated with two vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi, Glomus intraradices Schenck and Smith and G. vesiculiferum Gerderman and Trappe. They were potted in three peat-based media to determine the effects of mycorrhizal peat substrate on acclimatization and subsequent growth of micropropagated plantlets under greenhouse conditions. Symbiosis was established between the three ornamental species and VAM fungi within 4 to 8 weeks of culture in the greenhouse, but not during acclimatization. Mortality of Gerbera and Nephrolepis mycorrhizal plantlets was reduced at week 8 compared to the noninoculated control. A peat-based substrate low in P and with good aeration improved VAM fungi spread and efficiency. Mycorrhizal substrates had a long-term benefit of increasing leaf and root dry weight of Gerbera and Nephrolepis. Mycorrhizal Gerbera plants flowered significantly faster than non-mycorrhizal plants.

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F. Ponton, Y. Piché, S. Parent, and M. Caron

Rooted plantlets of in vitro micropropagated Boston fern [Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott var. Whitmanii] were transferred to pots containing a brown peat-based mix and simultaneously inoculated with one of four species of Glomus. Glomus intraradices and G. clarum formed rapid and extensive infection in Nephrolepis exaltata roots, while Glomus vesiculiferum and G. versiforme showed a significantly slower rate of infection. The high P fertilized control performed better than the other treatments, except in the number of fronds, which was similar. From the four mycorrhizal treatments, plants inoculated with Glomus vesiculiferum showed the most significant increase in growth when compared with the low P fertilization control. These results led us to re-examine vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation as an alternative to higher P fertilization in horticultural Boston fern production.