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Biochar Improves Viability of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (Amf) in Soil and Roots of Wheat (Triticum aestivum) and Maize (Zea mays L.) under Various Cropping Systems

Biochar Improves Viability of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (Amf) in Soil and Roots of Wheat (Triticum aestivum) and Maize (Zea mays L.) under Various Cropping Systems

Zubaria Malik, Zahir Shah* and Muhammad Tariq 

Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, The University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

zahirshah@aup.edu.pk  

ABSTRACT

Soil amendment with biochar is considered as a means to improve soil fertility and other soil properties. However, the effects of biochar on soil biota specifically arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have received less attention. This study was therefore executed to assess the effect of biochar amendment on AMF in soil and roots of wheat and maize crops in a rotation experiment involving cereals {wheat (Triticum aestivum), maize (Zea mays L.)} and legumes {chickpea (Cicer arientinum), mungbean (Vigna radiata)} in a calcareous alkaline soil of Peshawar valley during 2015/16 and 2016/17. This study was conducted in an already established experiment which was in a randomized complete block design with split plot settings. Keeping cropping systems in main plots and biochar levels in subplots. Biochar treatments were no biochar (T1), 20 t biochar ha-1 in each season (T2), 40 t biochar ha-1 in winter (T3) and 40 t biochar ha-1 in summer season (T4). Root samples of wheat and maize were collected at harvest stages and assessed for AMF colonization. Soil samples were also collected at the time of root sampling and analyzed for AMF spores. The results showed that neither root colonization of AMF in wheat and maize nor AMF spores density in soil were significantly (P<0.05) affected by cropping systems in any year. The average AMF spores in soil ranged from 45.1 to 39.8 per 20 g soil in wheat phase and 41.2 to 37.0 per 20 g soil in maize phase suggesting no considerable variation with season. However, the root colonization of AMF in maize (42.7-26.0 %) was considerably greater than that in wheat (14.5-14.9 %). Biochar treatment significantly increased both the AMF spores density in soil and root colonization in wheat and maize crops relative to the control treatment. The maximum AMF spores in soil in both seasons (wheat and maize) were found in T2 where biochar was applied at 20 t ha-1 each in summer and winter. In each season, control treatment had the lowest spores density in soil. The same trend was observed for root colonization of AMF in wheat and maize with maximum colonization in T2 and lowest in T1. These results suggested that indigenous AMF can be increased in soil and roots of wheat and maize with biochar amendment in an alkaline calcareous soil with low fertility. 

 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

October

Vol. 51, Iss. 5, Pages 1599-1997

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