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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Ericoid Mycorrhizae in Nursery Production of Blueberries

Authors
item Scagel, Carolyn
item Wagner, Adam - FALL CREEK FARM AND NURSE
item Winiarski, Paul - FALL CREEK FARM AND NURSE

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Oregon Horticultural Society
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 3, 2003
Publication Date: February 3, 2003
Citation: Scagel, C.F., Wagner, A., Winiarski, P. 2003. Ericoid mycorrhizae in nursery production of blueberries. Proceedings of the Oregon Horticultural Society.

Interpretive Summary: Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) can form beneficial symbiotic associations with ericoid mycorrhizal fungi (EMF), specific root-colonizing fungi that can enhance plant nutrient and water uptake. Root colonization by EMF is common on plants in the wild however there are few reports detailing presence of ericoid mycorrhizae in blueberry nurseries. Also, little is known about the roles that EMF play in nursery production of blueberry and whether establishment of the plant-fungus relationship can influence the productivity and quality of blueberry plants produced in a nursery. This paper reports the frequency and intensity of EMF in nursery production of several blueberry cultivars growing from tissue culture plants and cuttings. The influence of EMF inoculation on growth of blueberry plants from tissue culture and cuttings is also summarized. We found that blueberry plants can become naturally colonized by EMF during nursery production however colonization is sporadic and can be quite low depending on the cultivar and production method. Nursery cultural conditions and potentially low inoculum availability may cause the low colonization levels we measured. We also found that inoculation can cause measurable changes in plant growth that may lead to increased quality and performance of nursery stock. This work needs to be extended to assess the survival and production performance of inoculated plants in field trials. Results from field trials will enable nursery and field growers of blueberries to understand the role that these fungi may play in nursery stock quality.

Technical Abstract: Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) can form beneficial symbiotic associations with ericoid mycorrhizal fungi (EMF), specific root-colonizing fungi that can enhance plant nutrient and water uptake. Root colonization by EMF is common on plants in the wild however there are few reports detailing presence of ericoid mycorrhizae in blueberry nurseries. Also, little is known about the roles that EMF play in nursery production of blueberry and whether establishment of the plant-fungus relationship can influence the productivity and quality of blueberry plants produced in a nursery. This paper reports the frequency and intensity of EMF in nursery production of several blueberry cultivars growing from tissue culture plants and cuttings. The influence of EMF inoculation on growth of blueberry plants from tissue culture and cuttings is also summarized. We found that blueberry plants can become naturally colonized by EMF during nursery production however colonization is sporadic and can be quite low (<16%) depending on the cultivar and production method. Colonization frequency and intensity generally decreased after transplanting possibly due to changes in cultural conditions that inhibit colonization of the fungi that were present in the intitial stages of propagation or changes in the types of fungi on the root system. Nursery cultural conditions and inoculum availability may cause the low colonization levels we measured. We also found that inoculation caused changes plant growth that may lead to increased quality and performance of nursery stock. This work needs to be extended to assess the survival and production performance of inoculated plants in field trials.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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