Presentation Title

Ericoid Mycorrhizal Fungi Aid in Growth and Reproduction Under Low-Nutrient Conditions

Presenter's Name(s)

Laney WilliamsFollow

Project Collaborators

Ryan Stuart (Collaborator), Erin O'Neill (Mentor)

Abstract

Ericoid mycorrhizal fungi (EMF) form symbiotic relationships with ericaceous plants such as Vaccinium corymbosum, or highbush blueberry and assist in nutrient acquisition. EMF have been found to provide nutrients to plants in stressful environments where nutrients are lacking. Here, I asked whether EMF was able to compensate for low-nutrient conditions by reducing or completely eliminating fertilizer in V. corymbosum.

Differently sourced fungi may vary in nutrient uptake ability. Therefore, I included both a commercial and a local fungal inoculum. To study the effects of both fungal inoculum and limited fertilizer, I created three distinct fungal treatments each containing 45 potted highbush blueberry plants: 1) commercial inoculum, 2) local inoculum, and 3) uninoculated control. Within these, treatments of 15 plants each contained: i) the recommended amount of fertilizer added, ii) half the recommended amount of fertilizer, and iii) no fertilizer.

I hypothesized that plants inoculated with EMF were able to access scarce nutrients in the soil and compensate for the lack of fertilizer, measured in plant growth and reproductive traits. My results show that EMF plants with no fertilizer do not differ in growth traits from non-inoculated fertilized plants. In larger-scale agricultural settings, mycorrhizal fungi has the potential to replace fertilizer.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Alison Brody

Secondary Mentor NetID

Jeanne Harris

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Ericoid Mycorrhizal Fungi Aid in Growth and Reproduction Under Low-Nutrient Conditions

Ericoid mycorrhizal fungi (EMF) form symbiotic relationships with ericaceous plants such as Vaccinium corymbosum, or highbush blueberry and assist in nutrient acquisition. EMF have been found to provide nutrients to plants in stressful environments where nutrients are lacking. Here, I asked whether EMF was able to compensate for low-nutrient conditions by reducing or completely eliminating fertilizer in V. corymbosum.

Differently sourced fungi may vary in nutrient uptake ability. Therefore, I included both a commercial and a local fungal inoculum. To study the effects of both fungal inoculum and limited fertilizer, I created three distinct fungal treatments each containing 45 potted highbush blueberry plants: 1) commercial inoculum, 2) local inoculum, and 3) uninoculated control. Within these, treatments of 15 plants each contained: i) the recommended amount of fertilizer added, ii) half the recommended amount of fertilizer, and iii) no fertilizer.

I hypothesized that plants inoculated with EMF were able to access scarce nutrients in the soil and compensate for the lack of fertilizer, measured in plant growth and reproductive traits. My results show that EMF plants with no fertilizer do not differ in growth traits from non-inoculated fertilized plants. In larger-scale agricultural settings, mycorrhizal fungi has the potential to replace fertilizer.