Culture and re-introduction of vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae in a prairie restoration
Dwayne Stenlund, Robert Jacobson, Iris D Charvat
Report no. Mn/DOT 1994-30
This project sought to examine whether it was possible to re-introduce naturally occurring soil fungi called vesicular arbuscular (VA) mycorrhizae back into disturbed soils as part of a normal seeding operation for restoring a prairie. The project consisted of three phases; 1) a survey to determine the types of VA mycorrhizae occurring in different soils and vegetation types (i.e. general roadside, prairie remnant, prairie planting); 2) collect from the wild and then grow prairie VA mycorrhizae species in a greenhouse at the University of Minnesota; 3) install the VA mycorrhizae along with seed from a conventional native seed drill and monitor whether the cultured VA mycorrhizae formed mycotrophic associations with prairie species in the field. This project was a preliminary feasibility study and was not intended to answer long term questions regarding the possible benefits VA mycorrhizae may confer to roadside plantings or other prairie restorations.
All phases of the project were successful. The survey indicated that differences in VA mycorrhizae composition exist between different sites. It is possible to produce VA mycorrhizae in a greenhouse by culturing on living plant hosts. The VA mycorrhizae produced was successfully installed along with seed into field plots and did form mycotrophic associations with newly planted prairie species. Preliminary results obtained from this project indicate that further investigation is warranted.