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Changes in soil aggregation and glomalin-related soil protein content as affected by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal species Glomus mosseae and Glomus intraradices

Bedini, Stefano, Pellegrino, Elisa, Avio, Luciano, Pellegrini, Sergio, Bazzoffi, Paolo, Argese, Emanuele, Giovannetti, Manuela
Soil biology & biochemistry 2009 v.41 no.7 pp. 1491-1496
glomalin, vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae, soil fungi, soil organic matter, soil quality, Medicago sativa, hyphae, aggregate stability, soil aggregation, Rhizophagus intraradices, Glomus mosseae, inoculation methods, roots, soil aggregates
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are key organisms of the soil/plant system, influencing soil fertility and plant nutrition, and contributing to soil aggregation and soil structure stability by the combined action of extraradical hyphae and of an insoluble, hydrophobic proteinaceous substance named glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP). Since the GRSP extraction procedures have recently revealed problems related to co-extracting substances, the relationship between GRSP and AM fungi still remains to be verified. In this work the hypothesis that GRSP concentration is positively correlated with the occurrence of AM fungi was tested by using Medicago sativa plants inoculated with different isolates of Glomus mosseae and Glomus intraradices in a microcosm experiment. Our results show that (i) mycorrhizal establishment produced an increase in GRSP concentration - compared to initial values - in contrast with non-mycorrhizal plants, which did not produce any change; (ii) aggregate stability, evaluated as mean weight diameter (MWD) of macroaggregates of 1-2 mm diameter, was significantly higher in mycorrhizal soils compared to non-mycorrhizal soil; (iii) GRSP concentration and soil aggregate stability were positively correlated with mycorrhizal root volume and weakly correlated with total root volume; (iv) MWD values of soil aggregates were positively correlated with values of total hyphal length and hyphal density of the AM fungi utilized.