Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi mycelium creates multiple fungal links between roots of plants and could be an important component of plant succession in ecosystems. Ourobjective was to compare the spore number (SN), genus contribution and indigenousarbuscular mycorrhizal colonization (AMC) capacity of soils from a tropical dry forest (caatinga) ecosystem in Brazil at different levels of successional stages after culturing for 3 months in a greenhouse Brachiaria decumbens (= Urochloa decumbens Staph) as trap plants. Soil samples were collected from Parque Estadual Mata Seca (Manga, MinasGerais State, Brazil) in four different areas: (a) Pasture (5 years without human activity,covered mainly by Panicum maximum Jacq.); and three different forest successional stages: (b) Initial (8 years in process of spontaneous recovery), (c) Intermediate (17 years without human activity) and (d) Late (no recorded human activity). At 90 DAP plants growing at intermediate disturbance soil had the lowest dry matter production, probablybecause of the lowest available soil P and Ca contents of this soil. The highest SN was found in soils from pasture while the lowest was in soils from the intermediate area.Glomus was, in general, the most abundant genus followed by Acaulospora, Gigasporaand Scutellospora (always present in intermediates rates). The contribution ofArchaeospora was the lowest; however, in some cases it was absent. AMC was higher inplant roots growing in soils from pasture but the lowest AMC was in plant roots from the intermediate area. This could be associated with the soil acidity, Al and H contents of this area which could be toxic to AMF. Mycorrhiza formation and SN appeared to be morerelated to the physicochemical characteristics of the soil and the host plant developmentto the soil successional stage. Further studies are needed in order to identify appropriatemanagement strategies for restoration of altered lands in order to contribute to the biodiversity conservation and microbial activity of ecosystems.
Key words: Arbuscular mycorrhizae, plant succession, soil factors.
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