The favorable effect of symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) has been known and studied since the 60s. Nowadays, many companies took the chance to start promoting and selling commercial inoculants of AMF, in order to be used as biofertilizers and encourage sustainable biological agriculture. However, the positive effect of these commercial biofertilizers on plant growth is not always demonstrated, especially under field conditions. In this study, we used a commercial inoculum on newly planted grapevines of a local cultivar grafted on a common rootstock R110. We followed the physiological status of vines, growth and productivity and functional biodiversity of soil bacteria during the first and second years of 20 inoculated with commercial inoculum bases on Rhizophagus irregularis and Funeliformis mosseaeAMF at field planting time and 20 non-inoculated control plants. All the parameters measured showed a neutral to negative effect on plant growth and production. The inoculated plants always presented lower values of photosynthesis, growth and grape production, although in some cases the differences did not reach statistical significance. On the contrary, the inoculation supposed an increase of the bacterial functional diversity, although the differences were not statistically significant either. Several studies show that the effect of inoculation with AMF is context-dependent. The non-favorable effects are probably due to inoculation ineffectiveness under complex field conditions and/or that, under certain conditions, AMF presence may be a parasitic association. This puts into question the effectiveness of its application in the field. Therefore, it is recommended to only resort to this type of biofertilizer when the cultivation conditions require it (e.g., very low previous microbial diversity, foreseeable stress due to drought, salinity, or lack of nutrients) and not as a general fertilization practice.
Authors: Elena Baraza1, Islem Hemida2 and Josefina Bota1
1Research group on Plant Biology under Mediterranean Conditions, Departament de Biologia, Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB) – Agro-Environmental and Water Economics Institute (INAGEA), Palma, Spain
2CHU research center of Quebec-Laval University, Infectious and Immune Diseases, Quebec, Canada
Keywords: mycorrhiza, glomus, soil microbial profile, photosynthesis, Vitis vinifera