Toxic effects of cadmium and zinc on ectomycorrhizal colonization of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) from soil inoculum

J Hartley-Whitaker, J W G Cairney, A A Meharg

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Scots pine seedlings colonized by ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi from natural soil inoculum were exposed to a range of Cd or Zn concentrations to investigate the effects of metals on ECM fungi-Scots pine associations in a realistic soil environment. Experiments focused on the relationship between the sensitivity of ECM Fungi and their host plants, the influence of metals on ECM community dynamics on Scots pine roots, and the effects of metal exposure on ECM colonization from soil-borne propagules. Ectomycorrhizal colonization was inhibited by Cd and Zn, with a decrease in the proportion of ECM-colonized root tips. Shoot and root biomass, total root length, and total root-tip density, however, were unaffected by Cd or Zn. A decrease in the diversity of ECM morphotypes also occurred, which could have a negative effect on tree vigor. Overall, colonization by ECM fungi was more sensitive than seedling growth to Cd and Zn, and this could have serious implications for successful tree establishment on metal-contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-699
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


  • cadmium
  • ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • soil
  • species diversity
  • zinc

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