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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Role of Microbes in Resource Management in Arid Ecosystems. I.

item Barrow, Jerry
item Mccaslin, Bobby - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Wildland Shrub Symposium Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 2, 1995
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Soils in arid environments are characteristically dry, high pH, low in organic matter and nutrient availability and present severe challenges for plant survival. Dominant native grasses and shrubs were found to form beneficial non-classical mycorrhizal associations with common soil saprobes and root invaders. These fungi colonize the root cortex forming various types of non-destructive structural interfaces, but do not invade the vascular tissues or cause disease. Infected roots of native plants accumulated lipids and mineral like substances. Seedborne fungi, on fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens (Pursh) Nutt.), formed similar associations in emerging radicles, decomposed the seed capsule (utricle) and external cellulose releasing nutrients for enhanced seedling vigor and development. We suggest that the survival and competitiveness of native plants is enhanced by their forming beneficial associations with saprophobic and root invading fungi capable of accessing nutrients from woody plant litter and resistant inorganic sources and water from desert soils, store them in immobile forms and conservatively release them to the host during stress periods as needed for survival.

Last Modified: 3/30/2015
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