Journal of Tropical Ecology

Research Article

Phosphorus nutrition of ectomycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal tree seedlings from a lowland tropical rain forest in Korup National Park, Cameroon

a1 University of Aberdeen, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Cruickshank Building, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK
a2 University of York, Department of Biology, PO Box 373, York YO1 5DD, UK.


The relationship between mycorrhizal colonisation and phosphorus acquired by seedlings of the arbuscular mycorrhizal tree Oubanguia alata Bak f. (Scytopetalaceae) and the ectomycorrhizal tree Tetraberlinia moreliana Aubr. (Caesalpiniodeae) was evaluated at low and high inorganic phosphorus availability. AM colonisation was positively correlated with phosphorus uptake by O. alata at low, but not at high phosphorus availability. Seedlings growth was positively related to arbuscular mycorrhizal colonisation at both low and high phosphorus availability, suggesting that growth promotion by arbuscular mycorrhizas is not simply related to an increase of phosphorus uptake. In contrast, phosphorus uptake by T. moreliana was correlated with EM colonisation at both low and high phosphorus availability, but there was no relationship between growth and ectomycorrhizal colonisation. Promotion of phosphorus uptake by arbuscular mycorrhizas and ectomycorrhizas at low phosphorus availability is consistent with the co-occurrence of the two types of mycorrhiza in tropical rain forests where available soil phosphorus is low. However, ectomycorrhizal colonisation may also be of advantage where inputs of phosphorus rich litter raise the phosphorus status of the soil, as seen in the groves of ectomycorrhizal trees in Korup National Park, and may be one of the factors reinforcing local dominance by these trees.

(Accepted July 27 1997)

Key Words: arbuscular mycorrhiza; Caesalpinioideae; co-occurrence; ectomycorrhiza; phosphorus; rain forest; Scytopetalaceae; tropics.