The effect of fungal endophyte inoculation on physiological responses to drought in white spruce
LE3 .A278 2012
Bachelor of Science
Environmental & Sustainability Studies
Research regarding the benefits of fungal endophyte inoculation on pest control in forestry has been gaining momentum. However, ancillary benefits of endophyte inoculation have yet to be well characterized. This research investigated the effects of fungal endophyte inoculation on responses to water limitation in a variety of white spruce genotypes. Previous studies indicated that certain grass species infected with fungal endophytes exhibit increased tolerance to drought and other stresses. Measurements were conducted over a three year period, ending in 2011, on 32 white spruce genotypes and three endophyte strains. Analyses of variance were conducted on shoot dry weight, root to shoot ratio, growth index, relative growth rate, and gas exchange data. Results indicate that white spruce genotype exerted a strong control on physiological responses to endophyte treatment. A spectrum of responses was observed, indicating that spruce genotypes can interact positively, negatively, or in a neutral manner in the presence of an endophyte. Furthermore, a potential relationship between tree size and endophyte effect was observed, with smaller and slower-growing trees receiving a greater benefit from endophyte inoculation. Notably, water availability did not appear to impact the relationship between endophyte treatment and host genotype, although water did impact growth. Further research targeting the effect of endophyte strain on responses to treatment may refine our understanding of these interactions.
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