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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in organic systems

Hodge, A; Gosling, Paul; Goodlass, G and Bending, Gary (2004) Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in organic systems. HRI Warwick.

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Summary

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are potential contributors to plant nutrition and pathogen suppression in low input agricultural systems, although individual species of AMF vary widely in their functional attributes. Recent studies at HRI and elsewhere have suggested that in some agricultural systems inoculum of AMF is substantially lower under conventional management relative to that under organic management. Further studies have suggested that conventional management selects AMF communities with limited benefits to their plant hosts relative to those in organic systems. There is a need to investigate the generality of these findings, and their implications for the productivity of organic systems, particularly during the period following conversion to organic management.
The current project was designed to pull together existing understanding of the role, and potential role, of AMF in organic systems, and to identify sites and develop methods for use in a subsequent research programme. The project had three objectives:
01 To deliver a literature review covering current knowledge of the role of AMF in conventional and organic agricultural systems.
The review considered the ways in which management influences the structure and functioning of AMF communities, including their contributions under conventional and organic management, and recommendations for future research needs.
02 To establish the extent of differences in AMF inoculum between organic and conventional systems, covering a range of management practices.
Paired organic and conventional fields at 12 sites from across England were selected to investigate the relationships between management, AMF communities and soil chemistry. Organic and conventionally managed soils showed no significant difference in soil chemical properties (Organic C, total N, total P, extractable P, K, Mg). However, organically managed soils had greater AMF spore numbers and root colonisation potential, and therefore higher AMF inoculum potential, than conventionally managed soil. The relative difference in AMF spore numbers between organic and conventionally managed fields increased with time since conversion. Differences in AMF inoculum potential between organic and conventionally managed fields, and between farm sites, could not be related to differences in soil chemistry.
03 To develop a method suitable for characterising AM fungus communities in soil libraries, based on 18S rRNA terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP)
T-RFLP was shown to provide a rapid semi-quantitative method for analysis of AMF community diversity. However it was clear that primers currently used to amplify AMF are selective and do not allow diversity of the whole AMF community to be determined. Additionally these primers amplify contaminant fungi which need to be removed from the T-RFLP profile prior to analysis. However, contaminant diversity was shown to be low.
The project has identified sites and techniques which could be valuable in future research to study the role of AMF under organic management. The study has also highlighted a number of key areas in which further research is needed in order to harness AMF to improve sustainability and productivity of organic and other agricultural systems. In particular, there is a need to determine the extent to which AMF diversity varies between organic and conventional management, the rate and mechanisms by which AMF diversity increases following conversion to organic production, the relationships between AMF diversity and crop nutrition/ pathogen control, and the soil factors controlling the effectiveness of AMF inoculum.


EPrint Type:Report
Type of Facility:Other
Other Type:n/a
Keywords:arbuscular mychorrhizal fungi, soil fertility, crops,
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality > Soil biology
Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Crop husbandry
Research affiliation: UK > Univ. Warwick, HRI
UK > Other organizations
UK > Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Related Links:http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/project_data/More.asp?I=OF0333&SCOPE=0&M=PSA&V=EP%3A200
Deposited By: Defra, R&D Organic Programme
ID Code:6772
Deposited On:01 Mar 2006
Last Modified:15 Apr 2011 09:46
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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