Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Switzerland

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as bioindicators in agricultural soils

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM fungi) are soil fungi that establish an effective symbiosis with most crops and wild plants, promoting plant growth and improving soil structure. Individual studies from Switzerland have led us to assume that certain species are suitable as bioindicators for various soils and land-use types. In a broad-based study, the AM fungi (spore communities) of 154 different grassland and cultivated sites scattered throughout Switzerland were investigated. A total of 106 of the just-under 300 species known worldwide were identified. Whilst many species occurred in almost all of the areas investigated, others exhibited typical patterns of distribution. In addition to known species such as Septoglomus constrictum (an indicator species for grassland and reduced-tillage arable land) and Funneliformis caledonius (an indicator species for regularly ploughed, acidic arable land), other species (a) Glomus macrocarpum, (b) Acaulospora alpina and (c) Gigaspora margarita and Cetraspora helvetica were identified as indicator species for grassland, for sites higher than 1400 m.a.s.l., and for low-altitude sites up to 1100m, respectively. The special ecosystem services provided by these species will be the subject of further investigations. Key words: altitude, arbuscular

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