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Feeder roots of bamboos are generally infected by symbiotic fungi that do not cause any disease, but are beneficial. The infected feeder roots are transformed into a unique morphological structure called mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizae apparently improve plant growth by increasing the absorbing surface of the root system, by selectively absorbing and accumulating certain nutrients (especially phosphorus), by making available to the plant some of the normally insoluble minerals, and by keeping feeder roots more resistant to infection by certain soil fungi.
In bamboos, both ecto- and endo- mycorrhizal associations have been reported. Ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with bamboos include: Thelephora terrestris Fries, Scleroderma verrucosum Persoon, Lactarius spp., Hygrophorus miniatus (Fries) Fries, Tricholoma sp. etc. (Mohanan 1995a) (Figs. 122-125). Various other macro fungi are also commonly observed associated with bamboo roots. These include : Clavaria spp., Clavalina spp., Ramaria sp.;Xylosphaeria sp.; Geastrum triplex Jung.; Collybia sp.;Tricholomopsis sp.;Hygrophorus chlorophanus Fries, and H. coccineus. However, their mycorrhizal status with bamboos is yet to be ascertained (Mohanan 1995a).
Endomycorrhizal fungi or vesicular arbuscular micorrhizal (VAM) fungi belonging to four different genera --Glomus, Gigaspora, Acaulospora and Scutellospora- - have been reported from Tainwan- China and India (Wu and Chen 1986;Appasamy and Ganapathy 1992; Battacharya et al. 1995; Mohanan 1995a). In India, more than 25 species of bamboos were recorded as naturally infected with various VAM fungi (Figs.126, 127).
The bamboo species are: Bambusa bambos, B. balcooa, B. multiplex, B. Polymorpha, B. tulda, B. tuldo ides, B. vulgaris, D. strictus, D. brandisii, D. longispathus, Melocanna baccifera, Pseudoxytenanthera ritcheyi, P. stocksii (Munro) Naithani, Ochlandra ebracteata, O. scriptoria, Phyllostachys pubescens, P. aurea, Thyrsostachys oliveri, T. siamensis, Gigantochloa sp., Cephalostachyum pergracile and Arundinaria sp. (Mohanan 1995 a). VAM fungi recorded in different bamboos are: Glomus aggregatum, G. australe, G. albidum, G. fasciculatum,G. botryoides, G. geosporum,G. magnicaulus, G. intraradices,G. mosseae, G. pubescens, G. reticulatum, G. macrocarpum, G. heterosporum, Gigaspora sp., Acaulospora sp. and Scutellospora sp. (Mohanan 1995a) (Figs. 128,129) .
As far as is known, absence or poor association of mycorrhizae may result in plant stunting and poor growth. This condition can be seen in bamboos growing in waterlogged areas. Clump vigour in the field as well as planting stocks can be improved by application of appropriate mycorrhizal fungi to the root system of bamboos.