For efficient handling, vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi should be processed into small and uniform inocula; however, processing can reduce the inoculum density. In this article we describe the preparation and use of sheared-root inocula of Glomus spp. in which inoculum densities were increased during processing. Our objectives were to determine inoculum viability and density after shearing and to ascertain if the sheared inocula could be pelletized or used with a gel carrier. Root samples were harvested from aeroponic cultures, blotted dry, cut into 1-cm lengths, and sheared in a food processor for up to 80 s. After shearing, the inoculum was washed over sieves, and the propagule density in each fraction was determined. Sheared inocula were also encapsulated in carrageenan or used in a gel carrier. Shearing aeroponically produced root inocula reduced particle size. Propagule density increased with decreasing size fraction down to a size of 63 μm, after which propagule density decreased. The weighted-average propagule density of the inoculum was 135,380 propagules g (dry weight) of sheared root material-1. Sheared roots were encapsulated successfully in carrageenan, and the gel served as an effective carrier. Aeroponic root inoculum was stored dry at 4°C for 23 months without significant reduction in propagule density; however, this material was not appropriate for shearing. Moist roots, useful for shearing, began to lose propagule density after 1 month of storage. Shearing proved to be an excellent method to prepare viable root inocula of small and uniform size, allowing for more efficient and effective use of limited inoculum supplies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology