Mycorrhizal symbiosis increases the tolerance of willows to heavy metals. Establishment of ectomycorrhizas on tree roots can be affected by the bacterial communities of rhizosphere. Some bacteria show a helper effect with the fungi, for example, by improving the fungal adaptation to different soils or by producing more fungal reproductive propagules. These bacteria were called "mycorrhiza helper bacteria" (MHB). The aim of this project is to investigate the influence of soil bacteria on the development of ectomycorrhizal symbiosis for improved phytoremediation of heavy metals. The objectives are to isolate and cultivate the bacterial strains from ectomycorrhizal fruiting bodies, mycorrhizosphere, mycorrhizae and uncolonised soil of willow, growing at heavy metal contaminated sites. Isolated bacterial strains will be analyzed genetically (restriction fragment length polymorphism - RFLP and partial sequencing of the 16S-rDNA). Additionally, the following physiological features of selected bacteria will be investigated:
a) Effects on the establishment of the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis of willows at heavy metal contaminated sites.
b) Effects on in vitro fungal growth.
c) Effects on mycorrhization and plant growth. The research will be focused on the metabolic interactions between mycorrhizae and bacterial strains. The outcomes of this project will enable the selection of bacterial strains for the production of inoculum and improve the efficiency of phytoremediation using ectomycorrhizal willows. The results of th is project will add scientific and economic value to the recently founded project MYCOWIL (HPMD-CT-2001-00078).
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