Influence of Rhizophagus irregularis Inoculation on Salt Tolerance in Cucurbita maxima Duch.
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The influence of mycorrhizal fungi (Rhizophagus irregularis) on salt tolerance of Cucurbita maxima grown in saline soil was investigated in a pot experiment. The experiment was laid out in a completely randomized design, with treatments replicated thrice. Accordingly, soil salinity significantly (p=0.05) reduced total photosynthetic pigments from 58.06 to 38.06 mg/kg. Mineral contents, biomass yield, AMF colonization were also significantly (p=0.05) reduced. In contrast, mycorrhizal dependency was significantly (p=0.05) increased in saline soil plants (from 26.91% to 66.45%). Furthermore, inoculation with R. irregularis significantly (p=0.05) increased total photosynthetic pigments from 58.06 to 62.06 mg/kg; N from 4.88 to 5.47%; P 860.40 to 896.22 mg/kg; K 4430.00 to 4630.00 mg/kg; Mg 558.99 to 592.10 mg/kg and Ca 2810.00 to 3151.00 mg/kg; biomass yield; leaf dry weight from 0.06 to 0.14g; vine dry weight 3.68 to 5.09g; roots dry weight 0.32 to 0.74 and total dry weight 4.06 to 5.97g, R. irregularis colonization (from 33.77 to 58.44%) and mycorrhizal dependency in C. maxima was evident in both saline and non-saline soil treatments. The results of this work shows that R. irregularis can enhance the ability of C. maxima to resist salt stress - possibly through some morphological/ physiological changes, as well as improved vigour, probably via the extensive network of the mycorrhizal roots. This last is considered to be one of several mechanisms that magnify the salt tolerance of host plants through increased nutrient acquisition (N, P, K, Mg and Ca) and water uptake. Inoculation with appropriate AMF can, therefore, be used to increase the productivity of C. maxima in saline soils.
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