Fungal interactions of key Chihuahuan Desert grasses

TitleFungal interactions of key Chihuahuan Desert grasses
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsSaar L.J., Barrow J.R., Havstad K
Conference NameAnnual Meeting, Society for Range Management
Date Published1992
KeywordsChihuahuan Desert, desert plant communities, ecology, fungal interactions, grasses, mycorrhizal associations, symbionts
AbstractFungal symbionts are recognized as important in the ecology of desert plant communities.Mycorrhizal associations can influence plant establishment, growth, and reproduction. In the Chihuahuan Desert two of the dominant shrubs (Larrea tridentata and Prosopis glandulosa) are recognized as endomycorrhizal, an attribute which may contribute to the competitiveness of these species in this environment. We hypothesize that principle native perennial grasses may not effectively exploit mycorrhizal associations. Our initial study objective was to examine the nature and extent of mycorrhizal infections of six key native perennial grass species found in association with these shrubs. Bouteloua eriopoda, Aristida longiseta. Sporobolus flexuosus,Hilana mutica, Muhlenbergia porteri, and Scleropogon brevifolius specimens were collected biweekly from June through September, a schedule which bracketed the summer growing season. Staining techniques identified histochemical activities as related to mycorrhizal structures, including vesicles and arbuscules. Separation techniques isolated fungal spores for inoculation of a nonendemic host and subsequent species identification. Data will be presented on the temporal nature of mycorrhizal infection of these perennial grasses. It is assumed that differential fungal symbiont activities may partly explain vegetation dynamics and soil microflora requirements for subsequent restoration of perennial grasses.