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Effect of ectomycorrhizal fungi on the uptake of Ca, Mg and Al by Pinus sylvestris under aluminium toxicity

Schöll, L. van; Keltjens, W.G.; Hoffland, E.; Breemen, N. van

Abstract

Aluminium toxicity has been considered an important factor in forest decline. In earlier pot experiments, ectomycorrhizal tree seedlings were reported to have higher growth rates than non-mycorrhizal seedlings under aluminium toxicity. In this paper, we test that if this is caused by exclusion of Al and higher uptake of Ca and Mg by the ectomycorrhizal roots. Pinus sylvestris seedlings, grown for 3 months on a semi-hydroponic system, were continuously drip-irrigated with nutrient solution, containing 0 or 1.5 mM Al. The seedlings were non-mycorrhizal or colonized by ectomycorrhizal fungal species from a podzol soil. The presence of 1.5 mM Al in solution significantly decreased the dry weights of needles and roots compared to the control, and increased mycorrhizal colonization. Yet growth was not affected by mycorrhizal colonization. Concentrations of Al in the needles were significantly higher at 1.5 mM Al in solution than at 0 mM Al, and significantly higher in ectomycorrhizal seedlings than in non-mycorrhizal seedlings. Concentrations of Ca and Mg in the needles were significantly lower at 1.5 mM Al in solution than at 0 mM Al, but were not affected by ectomycorrhizal colonization. In conclusion, ectomycorrhizal colonization did not mitigate aluminium toxicity in our semi-hydroponic system. We suggest that better growth of soil-grown ectomycorrhizal tree seedlings compared to non-mycorrhizal tree seedlings should be explained by improved uptake of immobile nutrients such as P through a better soil exploration by the external mycelium or by detoxification of Al by organic anions excreted by the fungi