WEBINAR – Quantification of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi associated with native plants in natural and disturbed grasslands. A project update.
Presenter: Adriana Morrell, Ph.D. Faculty, School of Agriculture Sciences Scientific Lead, Mycology Lab Lethbridge College
Over the past two and a half decades, Canada has lost 25 million acres of grasslands (Nature Canada, 2022). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can establish symbiosis with more than 80% of plant families and they are able to improve plant growth through increased uptake of nutrients essential for plant growth, such as available soil phosphorus. AMF can help stabilize soil aggregates, alleviating erosion and improving soil structure and can increase plant tolerance to stress caused by biotic and abiotic factors. Since grasslands are greatly affected by climate change and human activity, AMF play a critical role in helping native plants adapt to environmental changes and survive adverse conditions. However, little research has been done on the effects of site disturbance on AMF communities associated with native plants in Alberta grasslands.
Anthropogenic disturbance can often shift soil microbial communities. The success of native plant community establishment may require the restoration of beneficial soil microbes. Measuring the degree of root colonization by AMF in representative native plant species during grassland restoration can be a good indicator of proper plant establishment and successful ecosystem recovery.
In this presentation, comparative data on the presence of AMF associated with the roots of Rough Fescue, Idaho Fescue and Bluebunch Wheatgrass in natural and disturbed grasslands will be provided. The effect of previous ecosystem disturbance on plant health will also be discussed.