2018 Volume 33 Issue 1 Pages 34-39
The effective use of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal function to promote host plant phosphate uptake in agricultural practice requires the accurate quantitative evaluation of AM fungal infection potential in field soil or AM fungal inoculation material. The number of infection units (IUs), intraradical fungal structures derived from single root entries formed after a short cultivation period, may reflect the number of propagules in soil when pot soil is completely permeated by the host root. However, the original IU method, in which all AM propagules in a pot are counted, requires the fine tuning of plant growing conditions and is considered to be laborious. The objective of the present study was to test whether IU density, not the total count of IU, but the number of IUs per unit root length, reflects the density of AM fungal propagules in soil. IU density assessed after 12 d of host plant cultivation and 3,3′-diaminobenzidine (DAB) staining showed a stronger linear correlation with propagule density than the mean infection percentage (MIP). In addition, IU density was affected less by the host plant species than MIP. We suggest that IU density provides a more rapid and reliable quantitation of the propagule density of AM fungi than MIP or the original IU method. Thus, IU density may be a more robust index of AM fungal infection potential for research and practical applications.