Influence of mycorrhizal fungi and fertilization on big bluestem seedling biomass

TitleInfluence of mycorrhizal fungi and fertilization on big bluestem seedling biomass
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsHetrick, BAD, Wilson, GT, Owensby, CE
JournalJournal of Range Management
Pagination213 -216
Accession NumberKNZ00234

The relationship between fertilization of prairie soils and mycorrhizal symbiosis in big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vit.) was explored. In 10 steamed prairie soils of varied P level, inoculation with a mycorrhizal fungus resulted in a 7- to 70-fold increase in big bluestem seedling biomass, compared to noninoculated controls. Fertilization with N and K (25-0-25) significantly increased biomass of mycorrhizal seedlings but did not alter growth of nonmycorrhizal seedlings. In a second experiment which assessed the impact of N and P on seedling growth, in both steamed and nonsterile soil, P fertilization did not significantly increase plant biomass, while N fertilization did substantially increase biomass of mycorrhizal, but not nonmycorrhizal plants. Fertilization with N and P together produced the greatest biomass in both mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal plants. Apparently, in the range soils tested N is the most limiting nutrient, despite the low P availability exhibited by these soils. In the absence of mycorrhizae, however, P is most limiting and no response to N is observed unless sufficient P is also applied. These studies confirm an extremely important role for mycorrhizal fungi on big bluestem seedling growth. Key words: phosphorous, nitrogen, Glomus etunicatum, mycorrhizae, Andropogon gerardii