Richardson, Sarah , Palmer, Corey , Middleton, Elizabeth , Bever, James , Schultz, Peggy , Yermakov, Zhanna , Hughes, Stephanie , Kogan, Samuel , Wachtel, David , Jones, Keith .
Comparing the effectiveness of native and commercial arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in establishing and colonizing plants in an urban prairie habitat.
Most of the original tallgrass prairie in the Midwest has been lost, but prairie restorations are limited in diversity of plants in comparison with remnant prairies. Restoring mutualistic soil microbes may increase success of prairie restorations. A new urban prairie habitat was designed as an experiment investigating whether adding mycorrhizal fungi to soil improves survival and growth of prairie plants in a restoration. Seedlings of four species of prairie plants were grown in a greenhouse with one of three types of inoculum (uninoculated soil, fungi from a remnant prairie, or mycorrhizal fungi sold commercially). These nurse plants were transplanted into plots in the urban prairie habitat. To investigate whether mycorrhizal fungi spread into the restoration from the inoculated plants, uninoculated Sporobolus heterolepis (test plants) were planted at different distances alongside inoculated plants. Survival and growth of nurse plants and test plants were measured multiple times during the year of planting and the following year. Soil cores were taken from plots and concentrations of carbon and nitrogen were assessed to determine whether inoculum treatments affected soil nutrients. By the first year of this long-term study, inoculated plants had a greater rate of survival and grew larger than uninoculated plants. Plants inoculated with native prairie fungi survived and grew better than plants inoculated with commercially grown fungi. Sporobolus heterolepis that had been planted as uninoculated test plants grew larger and survived better in plots inoculated with native prairie fungi. A year after planting, concentrations of carbon and nitrogen in the soil were not affected by inoculation. Future work will determine whether mycorrhizal fungi increasingly colonize plots and whether differences among treatments persist.
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1 - DePaul University, Chicago, IL
2 - Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
3 - Missouri Department of Conservation, MO
4 - Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
5 - Chicago Park District, Chicago, IL
6 - Aramark Facility Services, Chicago, IL
7 - V3 Ecological Restoration Group, Chicago, IL
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM