Soil type and properties influence the abundance of fungal root endophytes and wheat productivity in the Canadian Prairie

M. Dai*, C. Hamel, M. St.Arnaud, C. Grant, N. Lupwayie, H. Janzen, S. Malhi, X. Yang and Z. Zhou


The abundance and function of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and non-AM endophytic fungi may vary with soil type in the Canadian Prairie. In this study, we explored the relationships between soil type, soil chemical properties, abundance of AM and non-AM fungi, and wheat productivity using 83 wheat fields distributed in the four main soil types of the Canadian Prairie. The wheat fields surveyed were on Black, Brown, Dark Brown and Dark Gray Chernozem soils, and under conventional or organic management.

Wheat dry biomass was related with soil type (P = 0.0005) and largest in Dark Gray and Brown soils. Wheat biomass was also related (P = 0.005) with soil fertility, especially with high levels of soil available Cu, NO3, and P. Levels of wheat root colonization by AM and non-AM fungi were correlated (P = 0.04) with soil type. Wheat productivity did not relate to root colonization by AM and non-AM fungi, but was positively correlated (R2 = 0.4428, P <0.01) with extraradical AM hyphal length.

The findings based on only one year results suggest that soil fertility and AM hyphae contribute to the nutrition and productivity of wheat crops in the Canadian Prairie. Variation in root colonization by AM and non-AM endophytic fungi with soil type suggests spatial variation in community composition in both fungal groups.


Proceedings of the 60th Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. 2010. Hamilton, ON. June 14-17 2010

* Corresponding author, E-mail

Posted June 2011