Forage radish and cereal rye cover crop effects on mycorrhizal fungus colonization of maize roots
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Forage radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. longipinnatus) is being used by increasing numbers of farmers as a winter cover crop in the Mid-Atlantic USA. It is a non-host to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and releases anti-fungal isothiocyanates (ITCs) upon decomposition in the winter. Field experiments were conducted to determine the effect of forage radish and cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crops on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus colonization of and P acquisition by a subsequent maize (Zea mays L.) silage crop. Cover crop treatments included forage radish, rye, a mix of forage radish and rye, and no cover crop. Mycorrhizal fungus colonization of maize roots at the V4 stage following forage radish cover crops was not significantly different from that in the no cover crop treatment. In 3 out of 6 site-years, a rye cover crop increased AMF colonization of V4 stage maize roots compared to no cover crop. These findings suggest that forage radish cover crops do not have a negative effect on AMF colonization of subsequent crops.
KeywordsArbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Forage radish Cereal rye Phosphorus Isothiocyanate
arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Partial support for this work was provided by the USDA Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (grants LNE03-192, LNE06-235). The authors would like to thank Julie Wolf for technical assistance and two anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback.
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