Selection of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal strains to improve Casuarina equisetifolia L. and Casuarina glauca Sieb. tolerance to salinity

Selection of the best salt-tolerant combination of Casuarina sp. and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) is one of the key criteria for successful setup of saline land rehabilitation program.

Context Land salinization is a serious problem worldwide that mainly leads to soil degradation and reduces crop productivity. These degraded areas could be rehabilitated by planting salt-tolerant species like Casuarina glauca Sieb. and Casuarina equisetifolia L. These are pioneer plants, able to form symbiotic associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF), and nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Aims The aim of this study was to select the highest salt-tolerant combination of Casuarina/AMF that can be used for the rehabilitation of lands degraded by salinity.
Methods C. equisetifolia and C. glauca were grown in sandy sterile soil in the greenhouse and inoculated separately with Rhizophagus fasciculatus (Thaxt.) C. Walker & A. Schüßler, Rhizophagus aggregatus (N.C. Schenck & G.S. Sm.) C. Walker, and Rhizophagus intraradices (N.C. Schenck & G.S. Sm.) C. Walker & A. Schüßler. After confirming the establishment of a symbiosis, the plants were watered with gradually increasing concentrations of saline solution. After harvest, size and biomass of the seedlings, root colonization by AMF, and AMF metabolic activities were evaluated.
Results A larger growth was obtained in the two species when the individuals were inoculated with R. fasciculatus. Root colonization rates did not differ among fungal species, but fungal metabolic activities were higher in mycorrhizal roots of C. glauca plants inoculated with R. fasciculatus.
Conclusion Among the three mycorrhizal fungi, R. fasciculatus was more efficient in association with Casuarinaceae species under salt stress. Our results suggest that selection of appropriate fungal strains is crucial to improve plant performance in saline soils.

Salinity, Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, C. glauca, C. equisetifolia, Rehabilitation, Salt-affected land

Djighaly, P.I., Diagne, N., Ngom, M. et al. Annals of Forest Science (2018) 75: 72.

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