Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi associated with the rhizosphere of seedlings and mature trees of Swietenia macrophylla (Magnoliophyta: Meliaceae) in Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico
BACKGROUND: Big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King) is the woody species with the highest economic value in Latin America. Currently, it is subject to intensive exploitation, diminishing its natural populations. Due to this decline, the species is a preferred species for reforestation and establishment of commercial tropical plantations. Mycorrhizal symbiosis is a biotic factor scarcely studied in the ecology of this species. Therefore, the objective of this research was to identify the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) species associated with the rhizosphere of seedlings and mature trees of big-leaf mahogany growing in its natural habitat, a tropical rain forest in Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico. Soil samples from a 20-cm depth were taken from the rhizosphere of big-leaf mahogany seedlings and mature trees. Additionally, spores from the rhizosphere soil were propagated on Sorghum vulgare, isolated and identified. The percentage of AMF colonization was also evaluated. RESULTS: Twenty-three AMF morphospecies belonging to four genera were registered: 11 corresponded toGlomus, 10 to Acaulospora, one to Gigaspora and one to Ambispora. Ambispora gerdemannii, Acaulospora spinosa, A. scrubiculata, A. foveata, Septoglomus constrictum, Claroideoglomus etunicatum, Glomus tenebrosum, Sclerocystis sinuosum, Diversispora aurantium,and Rhizophagus fasciculatus were identified to species level. We report for first time the presence of G. tenebrosum and C. etunicatum in natural areas of the humid Mexican tropics. The rhizosphere soil of the trees harbor more morphospecies than soil from seedlings (21 and 11 morphospecies, respectively). Sorghum plants inoculated with rhizosphere soil from big-leaf trees showed higher percentages of total mycorrhizal colonization, arbuscules and hyphae (P < 0.01) compared with plants inoculated with rhizosphere soil from seedlings. CONCLUSIONS: Twenty-three AMF morphospecies included in the genera Glomus, Acaulospora, Gigaspora andAmbispora were found associated with rhizosphere soil of mahogany trees growing in its natural habitat. The diversity of AMF genera and species found was around two times greater in mature trees than in seedlings. Some AMF species were only detected when trap-plants culture methods were employed, stressing the importance of this technique. This information has great potential for biotechnological application when performing reintroductions or reforestation with the tropical tree mahogany.