Colonization of green roof plants by mycorrhizal and root endophytic fungi

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John, Jesse
Lundholm, Jeremy
Kernaghan, Gavin
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Ecological Engineering (Elsevier)
Green roof plants must survive hot and dry conditions in low nutrient artificial growing media. Although soil microorganisms such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can ameliorate these constraints by increasing water and mineral uptake, virtually nothing is known about the microbes associated with the roots of green roof plants. We determined levels of AMF and dark septate endophyte (DSE) colonization of plants grown for four years on an experimental green roof in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Green roof plant species included the forb Solidago bicolor, the grasses Danthonia spicata and Poa compressa and the succulent Sedum acre. We also assessed root colonization of these same species, as well as three additional succulents (Sedum spurium, Rhodiola rosea and Hylotelephium telephium), collected from their natural habitats. We further assessed the inoculum potential of a commercial green roof substrate before and after the introduction of host plants. Levels of AMF colonization were similar within plant species, regardless of collecting location (roof or field). All plant species were colonized except for the succulent S. acre, which is commonly utilized as a green roof plant. The commercial growing medium contained extremely low levels of viable AMF propagules, but this increased significantly after planting with Solidago. Conversely, all species (from roof, field and bioassay) were well colonized by DSE, which appear to differ from the AMF with respect to their pattern of dispersal onto the green roof. Although the widespread use of non-mycorrhizal succulent species such as S. acre precludes the ecosystem services provided by the AMF symbiosis, the benefits of both succulent tissue and AMF could be obtained simultaneously with careful green roof plant selection.
Arbuscular mycorrhiza , Dark septate endophytes , Succulents , Inoculum potential , Mycorrhizal bioassay
John, J., Lundholm, J. and Kernaghan, G. 2014. Colonization of green roof plants by mycorrhizal and root endophytic fungi. Ecological Engineering 71: 651-659.