The project aims to quantify and optimise the long-term advantages for productivity and nutrition of Casuarinas, grown in small plantations by many farmers in southern India, of sustainable associations with the N fixing actinomycete Frankia and with mycorrhizal symbionts. The benefits that accrue from inoculation of nursery seedlings with mycrosymbionts is well established for many actinorhizal plant species and such research is an objective of STD2 project TS2*CT9O-0317 (SSMU). Immunological techniques, currently in use with mycorrhizal fungi, will be developed and utilised for the rapid and specific detection of elite Frankia and mycorrhizal strains that are being introducted in STD2 to nursery Casuarinas for outplanting in plantations in India. The research will provide essential information, currently lacking in this field, on the long-term competitivity and survival of Frankia in tropical soils and on the persistence and rate of spread of introduced mycorrhizal strains. The data will be combined with measurements of the amounts of N fixed and the mineral N sources available to Casuarinas as they mature, obtained from d15N and dD natural abundance analyses. Further research will be carried out to develop culture systems for the production of mycorrhizal and Frankia nodulated micropropagated seedlings of Casuarina, that could be made available to growers without the need for further inoculation. This system may also enable the maintenance of axenic cultures of vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizas (VAM) for use in antibody production and for dissemination to growers. The overall aim of the project will be to optimise and obtain projections of the time span over which benefits to Casuarina outplants of improved nutrition will result from associations with selected strains of microsymbionts. Together with the data from the STD2 project, this proposal will enable predictions to be made that will allow the grower to assess the value of microbial inoculation for tree crop production in both nursery and plantation.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
AB9 1UD Aberdeen
AB9 1FX Aberdeen