B1.1 Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) for reforestation
[funded by Schu 1203/10-1]
PI(s) for this project:
The role of arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) in the establishment of rainforest tree seedlings - application of defined AM fungi for efficient reforestation approaches
The Ecuadorian Mountain Rainforest is an arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) forest. Nearly all trees in the study area form AM, and are dependent on the fungal symbiosis partners, the "AM fungi". About 200 arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi (Glomeromycota) are described - but this represents only the tip of the iceberg of their diversity (probably <5% of existing species). It is therefore impossible to perform a classical species-monitoring. To understand functional roles of the (obligate symbiotic) AM fungi (AMF), as well as to make possible their use in reforestation with indigenous trees, we will: 1) perform molecular monitoring of AMF in natural rainforest seedlings (reference data); 2) make trap-cultures from seedling roots to culture associated AMF; 3) make isolates and define a fungal cocktail that is tested for its enhancement of efficiency of nursery-grown trees (tree nursery experiment); 4) investigate ecological roles, e.g. whether a reduced AMF diversity after pasture-burning (most AMF are heat sensitive) may lead to selection of the heat resistant bracken fern (and putatively heat resistant AMF). Such a decreased diversity (lack of essential AMF?) in the field could also be a problem for reforestation. Therefore, the AMF diversity in the succession of the pastures (distinct grasses) will be monitored, too.
Trees from the tree nursery experiment will be used for reforestation and parameters regarding survival, growth, and physiology will be recorded in the field. In the long term, the succession of the AMF in the reforestation plots will be monitored and compared to the forest.
The goal is to identify AMF useful for an efficient reforestation. This will help to speed-up the slow succession towards a natural, diverse forest, which is getting even slower in future when large regions will be devoid of primary forest as a source for seed-introduction, etc. Defined AMF isolates will be offered for future reforestation attempts, also to the Ecuadorian partners.