Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

William F. Campbell


William F. Campbell


Mycorrhizal associations are very important to plant growth. This is mainly due to the hyphal stands that are able to utilize concentrations of nutrients that would normally be considered unavailable for plant growth, especially phosphorus. These associations are of great importance in soils that have been disturbed by mineral extraction and are consequently low in available nutrients. The ability of mycorrhizal fungi to form associations on disturbed sites may be dictated by a number of factors: moisture, soil pH, soil fertility (including heavy metal ions), salinity, and plant response.

Two factorial experiments were conducted with the legume Hedysarum boreale cv utahensis and the mycorrhizal fungus Glomus mosseae. The first to observe the effects of three factors: fungi level (mycorrhizal or non-mycorrhizal), type of phosphate (P) (monocalcium or superphosphate), and irrigation intervals (2, 4, or 8 day) on root and shoot dry weights. The second experiment was conducted to observe the effects of three factors: fungi level, type of P and level of P on root and shoot dry weights, root and shoot P concentration, nodulation and nitrogen fixation.

In the first experiment, the combination of fungi level and type of P had a significant effect on root /shoot ratio (weight ). In the second experiment, the interaction of fungi level, type of P and level of P had a significant effect on nodulation. The interaction of P type and P level had a significant effect on the amount of phosphorus found in plant roots and shoots. The factor, fungi level, had a significant effect on shoot dry weight, with mycorrhizal plant's shoots having a significantly greater dry weight than non-mycorrhizal shoots.

Mycorrhizal infection may have been greatly reduced by the adverse soil conditions found in the mine spoil (i.e. low pH, high salinity , and high heavy metal concentration). What infection did occur may have been great enough to produce changes in the shoot dry weight, but not great enough to significantly enhance plant P uptake. The reintroduction of mycorrhizae into disturbed areas for reclamation purposes may be important for rapid establishment of plant cover and to speed up succession. Before mycorrhizae can be reestablished in a disturbed area, many potential stress factors need to be addressed and, if possible, overcome.