Micropropagation technology promises to improve the supply of sea oats for restoring Florida's eroded beaches, but concerns about genetic diversity need to be addressed. These dune plants are colonized by a wide array of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, yet little is know of the diversity of these fungal communities. Our goal was to test the level of functional diversity that exists among communities of AM fungi that are present in divergent Florida dunes. Community pot cultures were established from samples collected from ten transects in two Gulf coast and two Atlantic coast locations in Florida, and these were used to conduct two greenhouse studies. The objective of the first study was to evaluate within-location variance in the mycorrhizal function of different AM fungal communities associated with endemic sea oats. The objective of the second study was to evaluate among-location responses of plant and fungal ecotypes using selected combinations obtained from the first experiment. Within locations, the AM fungal community had significant impacts on shoot mass and shoot-P contents, confirming a range of symbiotic effectiveness exists within the beach-dune system. Among locations, there was a tendency for greater root colonization between host clones and fungal communities from the same location, indicating a degree of specificity between host ecotypes and their symbiotic fungi. Relative to plant growth response, one fungal community was superior across plant genotypes from all locations, while one plant genotype tended to have the best response across all fungal communities. These data suggest that while it is possible to select effective AM fungal-host combinations for outplanting, origin of host and AM fungi have little predictive value in screening these combinations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Plant Science