Pinus sylvestris seedlings infected with either the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungus Paxillus involutus or Suillus variegatus were exposed to a range of Cd or Zn concentrations. This was done to investigate the relationship between the sensitivity of ECM fungi and their host plants over a wide range of concentrations. P. involutus ameliorated the toxicity of Cd and Zn to P. sylvestris with respect to root length, despite significant inhibition of ECM infection levels by Cd (Cd EC50 [effective concentration which inhibits ECM infection by 50%] values were: P. involutus 3.7 mu g g(-1) Cd; S. variegatus 2.3 mu g g(-1) Cd). ECM infection by P. involutus also decreased Cd and Zn transport to the plant shoots at potentially toxic concentrations and also influenced the proportion of Zn transported to the roots and shoots, with a higher proportion retained in the roots of the seedlings. ECM infection did increase host biomass production, but this was not affected by the presence of Cd or Zn. Root and shoot biomass production by P. sylvestris, in both the presence and absence of ECM fungi, was unaffected by Cd and Zn at all concentrations tested.
Bibliographical noteThe authors wish to thank the Natural Environment Research Council and Institute of Terrestrial Ecology for financial support for J. Hartley-Whitaker.
- ectomycorrhizal fungi
- metal toxicity
- Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)
- MYCORRHIZAL INFECTION
- ZINC TOLERANCE