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ARS Home » Plains Area » Manhattan, Kansas » Center for Grain and Animal Health Research » Grain Quality and Structure Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331046

Research Project: Impact of the Environment on Sorghum Grain Composition and Quality Traits

Location: Grain Quality and Structure Research

Title: The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in grain production and nutrition of sorghum genotypes: Enhancing sustainability through plant-microbial partnership

item COBB, ADAM - Oklahoma State University
item WILSON, GAIL W. - Oklahoma State University
item GOAD, CARLA - Oklahoma State University
item Bean, Scott
item KAUFMAN, RHETT - Bayer Cropscience
item Herald, Thomas
item Wilson, Jeff

Submitted to: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/21/2016
Publication Date: 10/1/2016
Citation: Cobb, A.B., Wilson, G.T., Goad, C.L., Bean, S.R., Kaufman, R.C., Herald, T.J., Wilson, J.D. 2016. The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in grain production and nutrition of sorghum genotypes: Enhancing sustainability through plant-microbial partnership. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 233:432-440. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2016.09.024.

Interpretive Summary: Grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is of growing interest as a food crop in the context of global climate change and mounting fertilizer costs because of superior production under dry and low-fertility conditions, as compared to corn. One key to successful sorghum cultivation may be enhancing mutualistic partnerships with beneficial soil microbes, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal hypha associated with plant roots can extend the reach of root systems and increase access to growth-limiting resources. The established landraces grown with little fertilization and AM fungi increased both vegetative biomass and grain production in excess of 200% compared to the commercial hybrid varieties. These established landraces also had increased protein content and substantial increased root colonization compared to the hybrid varieties. These beneficial AM fungi present a great opportunity to make global agriculture more sustainable and more productive while reducing fertilization usage and cost, decreasing the negative environmental impacts, while still providing human nutritional needs.

Technical Abstract: The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and fertilization in sorghum grain production and quality was assessed for 3 hybrid genotypes, 2 open-pollinated African genotypes, and 1 open-pollinated Latin American genotype. The open-pollinated genotypes produced an average of 206% more vegetative biomass and 285% more grain per plant, compared to hybrid genotypes when grown with AM fungi and no fertilization. Furthermore, the average protein production of open-pollinated genotypes was increased 320%, compared to hybrid genotypes grown under the same low-fertility conditions. Percent AM root colonization was 149% greater in open-pollinated genotypes compared to hybrid genotypes, and across all genotypes, AM colonization was significantly correlated with total grain mineral content. African and Latin sorghum genotypes were significantly more responsive to mycorrhizal symbiosis than US hybrid genotypes for nutrient uptake and subsequent grain production and quality, while hybrid genotypes were significantly more responsive to fertilization.