the Potential of Native Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Inoculation to Improve the Dry Evergreen Afromontane Forests Restoration Efforts in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Currently, the restoration of dry evergreen Afromontane forests (DAF) is one of the most important environmental agendas in Ethiopia. However, DAF restoration is very challenging and so far, there has been limited success. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate if there are potential benefits of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) inoculation to improve DAF restoration. Firstly, we investigated the AMF status of nine native tree species raised in ten tree nurseries of central and northern Ethiopia. Secondly, we determined the AMF spore abundance (SA) and infectivity and the soil physicochemical property (a proxy to AMF composition) across four land uses, viz., natural forest (NF), shrub land (ShL), cropland (CrL), and grazing land (GrL) of the Chilimo forest (CF). Thirdly, in a mesh-house experiment, we evaluated the wholesoil AMF inoculation effects on the growth and quality of Cordia africana Lam., Juniperus procera Hochst. ex Endl., and Podocarpus falcatus (Thunb.) R. Br. ex Mirb seedlings grown on sterile and non-sterile degraded DAF ecosystem soil. SA in the nurseries ranged from 1.30-24.63 spores g-1 of soil and was comparable with the SA range found in the CF (3.4-25.3 g-1 of soil). Root AMF colonization (RC) of seedlings ranged from 8-97.67%. Our results indicated that none of the seedlings were with low v SA and RC simultaneously. We also found that land-use changes in the CF, significantly (p<0.05) affected most of the soil physicochemical variables. The nonmetric multidimentioanl scaling ordination plot depicted that the soil physicochemical property was resilient to CF degradation (NF-ShL conversion) but not deforestation (NF-CrL or GrL conversions). SA was resilient to both the degradation and deforestation of CF but infectivity was only resilient to NF-CrL conversion. The mesh-house experiment results indicated that C. africana had significantly (p<0.05) higher mycorrhizal responsiveness compared to J. procera and P. falcatus. Moreover, AMF inoculation significantly (p<0.05) increased C. africana growth, while little or no effect was found for J. procera and P. falcatus. Based on our findings, we conclude AMF inoculation to be merited in some conditions (selected tree species and planting sites). However, additional studies are required on more tree species, AMF variables, and DAF.



Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (Amf), C. Africana, Chilimo Forest, Dry Evergreen Afromontane Forests (Daf), Forest Restoration, J. Procera, P. Falcatus