The current extent of tallgrass prairie in the state of Illinois is less than 0.1% of its historical coverage. Efforts are being made by conservation organizations to expand the extent of prairie through ecosystem restoration. One life form present in every ecosystem but often is overlooked in prairie restoration is the soil mycorrhizal community. Mycorrhizal fungi have various relationships with plant roots, some beneficial and others parasitic. This study explores the effects of two purportedly beneficial fungal inoculant products on the growth of four species of prairie plants. The inoculants used were chosen for their different fungal composition. MycoBloom® obtains their fungi strains from prairies around the Midwest while BioOrganics® is a typical commercial inoculant with fungi obtained indiscriminately. The plants chosen comprised of two forbs (Dalea purpurea and Monarda punctata) and two grasses (Bouteloua curtipendula and Eragrostis spectabilis). Plant responses to the two inocula and a control were measured in a 3x4 randomized complete block design replicated 12 times in two field sites. The plant growth was measured throughout the growing season including stem height, stem count, and inflorescence count. Overall, there was no significant difference between the treatments in any species. When the two field sites were analyzed separately, E. spectabilis showed increased levels of growth in each criterion when treated with the fungal inoculant BioOrganics® in Site 1. This might be attributed to the soil conditions at the site or it could be a false positive because the sample size was only four E. spectabilis plants with that treatment in that site. Better evidence to conclude a difference in the treatments could possibly be found in further studies. Given the results of this study, it would not be effective to recommend any type of fungal addition to soils without specific knowledge that the soil needs supplementation.
|Advisor:||Schulz, Kurt, Esselman, Elizabeth|
|Commitee:||Barry, Kelly, Esselman, Elizabeth, Schulz, Kurt|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 58/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Plant sciences, Soil sciences|
|Keywords:||Illinois, ecosystem restoration, fungal inoculants|
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