Faculté des sciences

Aboveground environment type, soil nutrient content and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi explain establishment success of Centaurea jacea on ex-arable land and in late-successional grasslands

Eschen, René ; Müller-Schärer, Heinz ; Schaffner, Urs

In: Plant and Soil, 2009, vol. 322, no. 1-2, p. 115-123

We studied the relative importance of the aboveground and belowground environment for survival and growth of emerged seedlings of Centaurea jacea to better understand the general difficulty of establishing late-successional species at restoration sites on ex-arable land. Potted seedlings growing on soil from six late-successional grasslands and from six ex-arable (restoration) sites were... Plus

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    Summary
    We studied the relative importance of the aboveground and belowground environment for survival and growth of emerged seedlings of Centaurea jacea to better understand the general difficulty of establishing late-successional species at restoration sites on ex-arable land. Potted seedlings growing on soil from six late-successional grasslands and from six ex-arable (restoration) sites were reciprocally exchanged, and survival and relative growth rate of the seedlings monitored. In addition, we assessed aboveground herbivory and colonization of roots by arbuscular myccorhizal fungi of all plants, as well as nutrient availability, and microbial biomass and community composition using PLFA techniques in all twelve soils. Seedling survival was higher in restoration habitat and soil than in grassland habitat and soil, but growth did not differ between the aboveground and belowground environment types. Shoot growth rate was initially correlated with soil nutrient content, and later in the experiment with mycorrhizal colonization levels. Our results indicate that arbuscular mycorhizal fungi may be important for the successful establishment of C. jacea and that abiotic soil factors, like K availability and N:P ratio, can promote mycorrhizal colonization. Hence, the belowground environment should be considered when selecting sites for restoring species-rich grasslands.