Submitted to: Australian Blueberry Grower
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2006
Publication Date: 12/1/2006
Citation: Mclean, C., Scagel, C.F. 2006. Who's On Your Roots: Part III. Australian Blueberry Grower. 17:13.
Technical Abstract: Blueberry forms specific associations with ericoid mycorrhizal fungi (EMF), yet there is almost no information concerning how these fungi influence the physiology of their host plants in horticultural production systems. Although the importance of EMF in a few natural ecosystems has been documented, their role in horticultural production systems for ericaceous plants in the United States and Australia has not been well studied. This report gives an update on results from cooperative work between the USDA-ARS and researchers at the University of Melbourne to determine (1) what fungi are present on the root systems of blueberry in Australia and (2) compare the diversity and attributes of EMF from blueberry in Australia and North America. The report also describes the sampling that took place in 2006 and outlines the experimental plans for EMF that have been isolated as part of this ongoing project. We have found that many fungi from blueberry roots in Australia and North America are similar; however, some are different. By establishing symbiotic associations between these fungi and tissue culture blueberry plantlets, we have determined that the Australian fungi that are similar to those from North American fungi are better colonizers of blueberry roots. This work will increase our understanding of the role that these fungi play in blueberry production in both countries. Results from this study will be used to develop future studies to evaluate the function or role of EMF as it relates to productivity and production practices of Vaccinium.