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Newton de Lucena Costa1 and Valdinei Tadeu Paulino2.

1EMBRAPA/Centro de Pesquisa
Agroflorestal de Rondônia, Caixa Postal 406, 78.900-970, Porto Velho, Rondônia, Brazil;
Instituto de Zootecnia, 13.160-000, Nova Odessa, São Paulo, Brazil.

Response of Desmodium gyroides to
phosphorus fertilization and mycorrhizal inoculation

There are several factors that determine the low animal performance in the tropics.
Among these factors, inadequate plant nutrition is the most limiting, followed by the low
natural fertility and high acidity of the soils in these regions. Phosphorus deficiency is
probably the major limitation to the growth of forage legumes, which have a high P require-
ment for establishment, optimum growth, nodule formation, and nitrogen fixation. How-
ever, P fertilization practices are restricted by poor infrastructure for P fertilizer distribution
and the high P-fixing capacity of tropical soils. A possible mechanism for maximizing fer-
tilizer efficiency is the improved use of the mycorrhizal plant symbiosis (Howeler and
Sierverding 1982). In this symbiotic association, the fungus uses carbohydrates produced
by the plant and benefits the plant with increased uptake of P and other nutrients through
external hyphae extending from the root surface into the soil (Mosse 1981). The present
study assessed the effects of three vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM) fungi species
(Acaulospora muricata, Scutellospora heterogama, and Gigaspora margarita) and two levels
of P (0 and 22 mg P/kg) on dry matter (DM) yield, nodulation, and N and P uptake of
Desmodium gyroides CIAT-3001.

The trial was conducted under greenhouse conditions using a P-deficient (2 mg/kg
available P by NH4F + HCl extraction) clayey soil of pH 5.5. The soil was sterilized at
110°C for one hour each day for three days and reinoculated with a soil microbial suspen-
sion free of mycorrhizal fungi spores. The treatments were arranged in a 4 x 2 factorial,
complete randomized blocks, with three replications. Each experimental unit was repre-
sented by a pot with a 3 kg dry soil capacity. For treatments with P, triple superphosphate at
the rate of 22 mg P/kg was added to the soil and mixed thoroughly. Seeds for sowing were
inoculated with specific Rhizobium (cowpea group). Hydric control was achieved daily by
weighing the pots and keeping soil at 80% field moisture capacity. Six days after emer-
gence, seedlings were thinned to three plants per pot. At 130 days after thinning, the plants
were cut at soil level and oven dried at 65°C for 72 hours. N and P concentrations of above-
ground DM were determined. The nodules were detached from the roots, cleaned, oven
dried at 65°C for 72 hours, counted, and weighed. VAM root colonization was determined
by the gridline intersect method (Giovannetti and Mosse 1970) after root segments were
stained (Phillips and Hayman 1970).

All parameters measured were increased by VAM inoculation and P fertilization.
There were differences among the species of mycorrhizal fungi in their ability to stimulate
growth depending on the P level applied. However, the mycorrhizal effects were improved

Forest, Farm, and Community Tree Research Reports—Vol. 2 (1997) 43

32 cd 52 G. 2 (1997) .48 a 0. VAM inoculation increased DM yields about 58 to 127 percent over the control. maximum P concentrations occurred with the inoculation of A.160 abc 18.77 a 56 M2 + 22 mg P/kg 12.14 c — z Means followed by the same letter in each column are not significantly different at 5% probability by Duncan´s test. VAM inocula- tion had a significant (P = 0. VAM fungi species showed a similar performance. muricata. VAM inoculation significantly improved (P = 0.145 c 8.33 bc 0.116 d 9. heterogama. by phosphate addition.152 bc 11. heterogama recorded higher DM yields (Table 1). was not inhibited by the appli- cation of 22 kg P/ha.149 c 18.098 e 3. irrespective of P level. plants inoculated with G. however.13 d 59 M1 + 22 mg P/kg 11. In relation to P uptake.171 a 15. no significative differ- ences were found among VAM fungi species. margarita or S. because the P concentration in tropical soils may be so low that VAM cannot develop extensively. heterogama (M1) 8.58 b 64 22 mg P/kg 7. Nodulation by Rhizobium depends on adequate mycorrhization or available P 44 Forest. but there were no differences among mycorrhizal fungi without phosphate fertilization. P contents and uptake. Farm. margarita (M2) 7. and VAM colonization of Desmodium gyroides CIAT-3001.73 a 0. the more effective fungus was A. The highest percentages were obtained with the inoculation of S. Mycorrhizal inoculation significantly increased nodula- tion compared with the uninoculated plants. heterogama and G.61 cd 0. The decline in N content for inoculated plants may due to a dilution effect resulting from higher DM accu- mulation.47 e — S.11 b 0. (1987) reported that myc- orrhizal infection of pigeon pea and leucaena. independent of P level. Effect of VAM inoculation and phosphate fertilization on dry matter (DM) yields. Similarly. heterogama and A. respectively. P application slightly increased colonization rates (Table 1). margarita in the presence of P addition. higher values were observed with the inoculation of S. while without P addition the more effective fungi were G. Data on N content and uptake and nodulation are presented in Table 2. Plants that did not re- ceive mycorrhizal treatments showed a positive response (104%) to phosphate fertilization compared to the control. margarita recorded higher N uptake. In general.05) positive effect on the nodulation (number and weight of nodules) and N content.14 cd 48 A.60 ab 53 M3 + 22 mg P/kg 9. muricata.Table 1. The level of response was greater with P fertilization. muricata and S. plants inoculated with S. In the absence of phosphate.23 bc 0. In the presence of phosphate. In relation to N content. while with P addition no significative differences (P = 0.168 ab 12. In the presence of P.54 dz 0. heterogama and G. small amounts of P applied with VAM inoculation give greater benefit to the plant than either inoculation or P application alone.04 bc 0. Treatments DM yield Phosphorus VAM colonization (g/pot) % mg/pot % Control 3. muricata. According to Abbott and Robson (1977).05) the P content. muricata (M3) 5. Manjunath and Bagyaraj (1984) and Costa et al. and Community Tree Research Reports—Vol. In the absence of phosphate fertilization. margarita and A.05) were found among VAM fungi species.

Munns. University of Reading Press.72 bc 152. margarita. and A. Response of pigeonpea and cowpea to phosphate and dual inoculation with vesicular-arbuscular mycorriza and Rhizobium. Sieverding.22 de 277.A. An evaluation of technique for measuring vesicular- arbuscular mycorrhizal infection in roots. 28:639–649. Sulriog. Effect of VAM inoculation and phosphate fertilization on N content and uptake and nodulation of Desmodium gyroides CIAT-3001.648 e G. the main effect of VAM on nodulation and N uptake is undoubtedly P-mediated.S.5 d 0.H. muricata (M3) 2. Univ.. 1981.2 c 0.. J. had potential as an economic way to increase the productivity of pastures on P-deficient soils. 23(1):65–76. According to Munns and Mosse (1980). and E. 1984.48 cdy 87.M.H. and Community Tree Research Reports—Vol. Hayman. Robson. and Human Resources. 194. Brit. References Abbott.5 cd 12. Treatments Nitrogen Nodulation % mg/pot numberz dry wt (mg/pot) Control 2. Costa. J. A. Trans. 1982.136 bc M2 + 22 mg P/kg 2.7 a 1.. 55:158–161.161 ab 22 mg P/kg 2. Agric.87 ab 207.6 c 10. 1987. and D. Mycol. D.34 de 171. Bunting (eds). In: R. therefore VAM can have important effects on nodulation and N fixation in legumes.J. Bagyaraj. 1977.06 e 165. supply. Mosse. 115–125. 1980. and I. J.J. 1970.4 a 1.Table 2..N. Growth stimulation of subterranean clover with ve- sicular-arbuscular mycorrhizas.8 e 6. B. Mosse.. and D. Efeito da inoculação de fungos endomicorrízicos e de fontes de fósforo sobre o crescimento do capim-sudão e da leucena. Forest. M. Hawaii Institute of Trop.0 a 20. Anghinoni. p.D. or plant hormones. margarita (M2) 2. Farm. 2 (1997) 45 . Howeler. trace elements. Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza research for tropical agriculture. heterogama (M1) 2.8 bc 0. Reading.4 a 19. when combined with a sufficiently low application of soluble phosphate.9 ab 22. Improved procedures for clearing and staining para- sitic and vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi for rapid assessement of infection. 1980.5 ab 1. Agric. R. Bull. Agron. Agric.755 de A. 82 p.19 de 256. La importancia de las micorrizas en la absorción de fosforo por la yuca. de L. L. gyroides with S. Res. Manjunath.278 a M3 + 22 mg P/kg 3.K.7 bc 0. Phillips. of Hawaii. (Trinidad) 61:48–52. Advances in legume science. it is also known to aid other processes involved in nodulation and N fixation. N. Trop.0 b 0.6 d 16. UK. heterogama or G. New Phytol.946 cd z Values analyzed after square root of (X + 1) transformation. Mineral nutrition of legumes crops. 84:489–500. such as supplies of photosynthate. Suelos Ecuatoriales 12:183–195. Dionísio. y Means followed by the same letter in each column are not significantly differed at 5% probability by Duncan´s test..5 bc 13. and B.10 a 282.819 de M1 + 22 mg P/kg 2. Mosse. and B.. Giovannetti.397 f S. Aust. Our data showed that mycorrhizal inoculation of D. Soc. Summerfield and A. Res.