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Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020073

Endophytic Fungal Root Colonization of Eragrostis tef in Eroded Croplands of the Ethiopian Highlands Is Limited by Low Spore Density and Fertilisation

1
Sirinka Agricultural Research Center, P.O. Box 74, Woldia, Ethiopia
2
Institute of Forest Ecology, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Peter-Jordan-Straße 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 8 February 2019 / Published: 9 February 2019
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Abstract

Eragrostis tef (teff) is a (sub-)tropical cereal crop and a staple food in Eastern Africa. As soil erosion has become increasingly worse in the Ethiopian highlands, we test the hypotheses that (1) eroded soils possess low arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) spore densities, (2) teff growth is limited by low endophytic fungal root colonization rates and (3) colonization rates and spore densities are additionally reduced by fertilization. A pot experiment was set up to study the effect of cropland soil inoculation using pristine fungal communities (from adjacent forests) or fertilization. AMF spore densities in soil with and without teff and root colonization by AMF and dark septate endophytes (DSE) were related to straw and grain yields. AMF and DSE colonization rates were higher after inoculation, which provides evidence that a low spore density limits teff root colonization in eroded soils. However, teff yields were significantly increased after fertilisation but not inoculation. N-P fertilization further lowered root colonization rates and spore density. We conclude that forest soils serve as a refugium for soil biota in the degraded landscape of the Ethiopian highlands. As both increased AMF and DSE increase the stress resistance of plants, their inoculation potential should be considered when developing sustainable management methods for teff. View Full-Text
Keywords: Arbuscular mycorrhiza; Colonization rates; Dark septate endophytes; Eragrostis tef (teff); Erosion; Ethiopian Highlands; N-P fertilizer; Spore density Arbuscular mycorrhiza; Colonization rates; Dark septate endophytes; Eragrostis tef (teff); Erosion; Ethiopian Highlands; N-P fertilizer; Spore density
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Getachew, G.; Rewald, B.; Godbold, D.L.; Sandén, H. Endophytic Fungal Root Colonization of Eragrostis tef in Eroded Croplands of the Ethiopian Highlands Is Limited by Low Spore Density and Fertilisation. Agronomy 2019, 9, 73.

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