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The effects of agronomic practices conducive to organic agriculture on the diversity and function of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (ECOMYCORRHIZA)
Start date: 01 Oct 2007, End date: 30 Sep 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) extensively form symbiotic relations with most plants which in most cases result in benefits to the plant including improved nutrition, amelioration of drought stress, improved soil structure, and protection from soil pathogens. AMF are considered key microbial players in low-input agricultural systems like organic farms. Selected efficient AMF could be used as soil inoculum in organic agriculture to benefit plant growth. Crop protection in such organic farms relies on pesticides of biological origin like azadirachtin or Quillaja saponaria, the use of non-chemical soil disinfection methods like soil solarization or biofumigation. The application of by-products of local agricultural industry like olive mill wastewaters (OMWs) might suppress soil plant pathogens and/or improve soil fertility. Although all the above practices are conducive or already used in organic farms there are no data regarding their effects on AMF and fungal community. The current proposal aims to investigate possible effects of crop protection and fertilization practices, conducive to organic farming fundamentals on the community and activity of AMF and other soil fungi. An initial survey will investigate the AMF status, diversity and function in organic farms. Selected AMF from the initial survey will be propagated at pure cultures and community cultures in order to be used in further experiments. Subsequent pot experiments will provide initial evidence of possible effects of the previously mentioned agronomic practices on the function and activity of AMF and fungi. Pot experiment results will be verified at replicated field experiments which allow the evaluation of the effects of these practices under realistic conditions. The proposed project will facilitate the integration of the applicant in EU, provide scientific expertise on mycorrhizal research for the host institution and guarantee training of the applicant to novel molecular fingerprinting methods."
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