The influence of mycorrhizae on big bluestem rhizome regrowth and clipping tolerance

TitleThe influence of mycorrhizae on big bluestem rhizome regrowth and clipping tolerance
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsHetrick, BAD, Wilson, GT, Owensby, CE
JournalJournal of Range Management
Pagination286 -290
Accession NumberKNZ00282

Mycorrhizal symbiosis is critical to growth of many warm-season prairie grass seedlings, but its effect on regrowth of rhizomes has not been determined. As forage species, the effect of grazing on the symbiosis is also important. When the impact of mycorrhizae on regrowth of Andropogon gerardii Vit. rhizomes was assessed, A. gerardii rhizomes collected from the field and grown with mycorrhizal inoculum produced larger plants than rhizomes grown in the absence of the symbiont. The effect of the symbiosis on clipping (simulated grazing) tolerance was quantified by growing A. gerardii in steamed or nonsterile prairie soil, with or without mycorrhizal fungus inoculation. Plants were cliped and a portion of the plants harvested at 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30 weeks after planting. As an additional control, Benomyl fungicide was applied to plants to inhibit the symbiosis. Mycorrhizal clipped plants were larger than nonmycorrhizal clipped plants, but the difference diminished with successive clippings. Mycorrhizal root colonization also decreased in response to repeated clipping. Maximum shoot and root biomass of mycorrhizal plants was produced at 12 and 18 weeks, respectively. Fungicide-treated plants did not grow appreciably after the first clipping. Thus, mycorrhizae improved clipping tolerance, but with repeated intensive clipping, significant changes in root/shoot ratio occurred and eventually mycorrhizal root colonization and growth benefit were lost. Key words: grazing, vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae, big bluestem, herbage yield