Arbuscular Mycorrhiza and Phytoremediation
An arbuscular mycorrhiza (plural mycorrhizae or mycorrhizas) is a type of mycorrhiza in which the fungus penetrates the cortical cells of the roots of a vascular plant.
Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AMs) are characterized by the formation of unique structures such as arbuscules and vesicles by fungi of the phylum Glomeromycota (AM fungi). AM fungi (AMF) help plants to capture nutrients such as phosphorus and micronutrients from the soil. It is believed that the development of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis played a crucial role in the initial colonisation of land by plants and in the evolution of the vascular plants.
It has been said that it is quicker to list the plants that do not form mycorrhizae than those that do. This symbiosis is a highly evolved mutualistic relationship found between fungi and plants, the most prevalent plant symbiosis known, and AM is found in 80% of vascular plant families of today.
The tremendous advances in research on mycorrhizal physiology and ecology over the past 40 years have led to a greater understanding of the multiple roles of AMF in the ecosystem. This knowledge is applicable to human endeavors of ecosystem management, ecosystem restoration and agriculture.
The use of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in ecological restoration projects has been shown to enable host plant establishment on degraded soil and improve soil quality and health (phytoremediation).
Disturbance of native plant communities in desertification-threatened areas is often followed by degradation of physical and biological soil properties, soil structure, nutrient availability and organic matter.
When restoring disturbed land it is essential to not only replace the above ground vegetation but also the biological and physical soil properties
A relatively new approach to restore land and protect against desertification is to inoculate the soil with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi with the reintroduction of vegetation. A long term study demonstrated that a significantly greater long term improvement in soils' quality parameters was attained when the soil was inoculated with a mixture of indigenous arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi species compared to the non inoculated soil and soil inoculated with a single exotic species of AM fungi. The benefits observed were an increased plant growth and soil nitrogen content, higher soil organic matter content and soil aggregation. The improvements were attributed to the higher legume nodulation in the presence of AMF, better water infiltration and soil aeration due to soil aggregation.
Inoculation with native AM fungi increased plant uptake of phosphorus, improving plant growth and health. The results support the use of AM fungi as a biological tool in the restoration of biotopes to self-sustaining ecosystems.
For More Information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbuscular_mycorrhiza
Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)