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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #252170

Title: Who’s On Your Roots – Summary of Mycorrhiza Work from Northern NSW

item SMART, SVETLANA - Department Of Primary Industries
item Scagel, Carolyn
item MCLEAN, CASSANDRA - University Of Melbourne

Submitted to: Australian Blueberry Grower
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2010
Publication Date: 6/5/2010
Citation: Smart, S., Scagel, C.F., Mclean, C. 2010. Who’s On Your Roots – Summary of Mycorrhiza Work from Northern NSW. Australian Blueberry Grower. 24:7-11.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Blueberry plants (Vaccinium) form beneficial associations with ericoid mycorrhizal fungi (EMF), yet there is almost no information concerning how these EMF influence the physiology of their host plants in horticultural production systems. Although Australia has several native ericaceous plants, mainly epacrids, members of the genus Vaccinium are not native to Australia. Comparing the diversity and attributes of EMF that exist in blueberry fields in Australia and the United States will increase our understanding of the role that these fungi play in blueberry production in both countries. Samples of roots collected from blueberry farms from New South Wales (Coffs Harbour and Alstonville) were used in experiments to (1) identify the fungi present in roots of field-grown blueberry plants, (2) determine whether the fungi formed mycorrhizae with blueberry plants, and (3) establish whether the fungi preferred specific sources of nitrogen (N) for growth. Results indicated that (1) fungi similar to EMF reported from northern hemisphere blueberry plants are present in Australia and can form EMF with blueberry plants in Australia; and (2) fungi similar to EMF found on native epacrids are present in blueberry roots in Australian blueberry fields and these fungi can form EMF with blueberry plants. The fungi that are currently present in roots of blueberry plants in Australian fields are probably adapted to the specific environmental conditions of these fields. The environment of these fields is quite different compared to areas inhabited by native epacrid plants and it is highly likely that EMF species and function would be different for these two environments. These results have highlighted that research on EMF on Australian epacrids in natural environments has direct relevance for the blueberry industry.