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Increasing mycorrhizal colonisation does not improve growth and nutrition of wheat on Vertosols in south-eastern Australia

M. H. Ryan, R. M. Norton, J. A. Kirkegaard, K. M. McCormick, S. E. Knights and J. F. Angus

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 53(10) 1173 - 1181
Published: 07 October 2002


Most crops host arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Canola and other brassicas are some of the few exceptions. This study examined AM fungal colonisation, uptake of phosphorus (P) and zinc (Zn), growth, and yield of wheat following brassicas and crops that host AMF in 5 crop-sequence experiments in southern New South Wales and Victoria. All experiments were on alkaline Vertosols, similar to soils in the northern wheatbelt on which low AM fungal colonisation of wheat following canola, or long-fallow, has been reported to induce poor crop growth. Soils with a broad range of extractable P concentrations were chosen. AM fungal colonisation of wheat was generally lower following brassicas than hosts of AMF, although this varied with year and location. The effect on wheat AM fungal colonisation levels did not vary between brassicas with differing levels and types of root glucosinolates. Low AM fungal colonisation did not affect early wheat growth, pre-anthesis P and Zn uptake, or yield. A positive relationship between AM fungal colonisation and grain Zn and P concentrations occurred in one experiment. High levels of colonisation by AMF did not protect crop roots from damage by root pathogens and high levels of pathogen damage made interpretation of results difficult in some instances. As these findings are consistent with results from an experiment on an acidic Kandosol in southern New South Wales, it appears farmers do not need to consider the degree to which wheat will be colonised by AMF when planning crop sequences in south-eastern Australia.

Keywords: brassicas, long-fallow disorder, phosphorus, zinc, biofumigation, glucosinolates, root pathogens, arbuscular mycorrhizae.

© CSIRO 2002

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