Soil Nutrients Effects on the Performance of Durum Wheat Inoculated with Entomopathogenic Fungi
Sánchez Rodríguez, Antonio Rafael
Campillo, María del Carmen del
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Entomopathogenic fungi (EFs) are widely used as biological control agents. However, some strains of Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium brunneum can also promote plant growth and increase nutrient uptake. We examined the effects of soil properties on the performance of Triticum durum inoculated by seed dressing with these EFs and grown on 12 agricultural soils. The plants were supplied with all nutrients except P and Zn (essential for yield and the grain quality of wheat). Fungal inoculation increased the grain yield and harvest index significantly with B. bassiana (17% and 14%, respectively) but not with M. brunneum (6% and 6%, respectively). The increase in grain yield was positively and moderately correlated with the soil available phosphorus (POlsen) in plants inoculated with B. bassiana and with the soil content in poorly crystalline Fe oxides with M. brunneum. In addition, the increase in aerial dry matter resulting from inoculation with B. bassiana was negatively correlated with soil available Zn. Furthermore, the observed increase in grain yields due to fungal inoculation resulted in P and Zn grain dilution (grain nutrient concentrations decrease). Inoculation with B. bassiana increased grain Zn uptake and the proportion of Zn in grain relative to that in aerial dry matter. Success in the mutualistic relationship between EF and wheat plants depends on the fungal strain and soil properties.