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BD Now! Mycorrihzae and Cole Crops?

Hugh -

The sod strips you employ for intercropping do
provide many "edge" effects.

The soils you've built to over 3% OM -- with
a full diversity of soil biota, humic substances,
and clay-humus complexes -- would provide
far more interesting results in sustainable cropping
research than typical agricultural experiment

The observations you made on root hairs on
cole crops were very interesting, but I'm not sure
they amount to eye-ball confirmation of mycorrhizal
colonization. VAM determination normally requires
staining or microscopy.

It is generally accepted that brassicas / crucifers
are non-mycorrhizal, in part because they are
early successional species, but also because they
have many root hairs.

The following passage on fine root hairs might be
relevant to your observations.

“Some plant species, such as crucifers (i.e. broccoli) are
unusual in that mycorrhizal symbioses are absent.
Species with fine root hairs and many root hairs are not
as dependent on mycorrhizae as species with well-defined
tap roots” (Coyne, 1999).


Soil Fungi
University of Western Australia

On the other hand, there are several papers that
describe mycorrhizal colonization of brassicas in
nature, and in mycorrhizal inoculated plants.

In the "A Check-List of Mycorrhiza in the British Flora",
the authors say the Cruciferae family has many
species that are never or rarely mycorrhizal.

On the other hand, they found that about one-third
of the cruciferae species examined in the British isles
were colonized by vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza.

Harley, J.L and E.L. Harley. 1987. A Check-List of
Mycorrhiza in the British Flora. New Phytologist,
Vol. 105, No. 2. p. 1-102.

The Mycorrhiza Information Exchange Database
at University of Tennesse has a search engine.

When you enter "brassica" or "crucifer", it
returns citations that show experiments where
broccoli and related cole crops were inoculated
with mycorrhizae. Sometimes they are definitely
colonized by VAM fungi.

Mycorrhiza Information Exchange Database

It's too bad that money and freedom-to-choose
research projects are lacking among agricultural
researchers, especially for those of us in
alternative agriculture.

It would be interesting to see what all you
could find on your farm with the support
of scientists and their laboratory equipment.

Steve Diver


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