Factors affecting the nodulation and growth of tropical woody legume seedlings
This study surveys the occurrence of nodulation in woody legume species in Panamá and Costa Rica, describes nodule and root characteristics, and researches host-bacteria specificity, nodulation potential of soils, and the effects of light, added nitrogen, and rhizobia and VA mycorrhizal fungi inoculation on seedling growth. I examined 83 species in 37 genera and found 80% to be nodulated. Percent nodulated species in the Caesalpinioideae, Mimosoideae, and Papilionoideae was 17, 95, and 86, respectively, with no correlation between nodule morphology and tribal classification. Nodules formed mainly at root branch points which supports epidermal breaks as an important rhizobia infection route. More non-nodulated than nodulated species had root hairs. Several species emitted volatile sulfur-containing compounds, including the toxic compound ethylmercaptan, from roots, germinating seeds, and other tissues. These emissions may have an allelopathic action against pathogens, predators, or other plants. In contrast to the general non-specificity of most legumes for rhizobia, Mimosa pigra L. was highly specific and only nodulated in flooded soils. This species' specificity, combined with a limited occurrence of its root nodule bacteria may limit its natural distribution, but its spread as an invasive weed is facilitated when fill material from rivers is deposited in other areas. ^ An experimental light level of 1.5% of full sun completely inhibited seedling nodulation, as do similar naturally low levels in forest understory. In the forest, trees and seedlings were not nodulated. in some soils with suspected high N content. For six experimental species, added N progressively increased seedling growth while decreasing nodule biomass; at the highest level of added N nodulation was completely suppressed. Species and individuals showed variation in nodule biomass at high N applications which may indicate an opportunity for genetic selection for optimal N acquisition. Rhizobia inoculation had a small positive effect on seedling shoot growth, but VA mycorrhiza inoculation overwhelmingly increased seedling size, biomass, and leaf mineral concentration. In lowland tropical forest, VA mycorrhizal colonization appears indispensable for legume nodulation because of the fungus' ability to supply P in deficient soils. This requirement makes the legume-rhizobia-mycorrhiza association obligately tripartite. ^
Biology, Botany|Biology, Ecology
Laurie Ann McHargue,
"Factors affecting the nodulation and growth of tropical woody legume seedlings"
(January 1, 1999).
ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU.