Date of Award

Summer 8-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Chair

Dr. Chester Rakocinski

Committee Chair Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 2

Dr. Jeffrey Lotz

Committee Member 2 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 3

Dr. Patrick Biber

Committee Member 3 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Abstract

Salt marshes are important economically and ecologically to the Gulf Coast and other coasts worldwide. Due to human activities, many coastal salt marshes have been degraded or destroyed. Restoration efforts, through the replacement or addition of naturally occurring salt marsh plants, are taking place worldwide. Most restoration plants are raised in nurseries and are not ready for transfer to restoration sites for eight or nine months. Once the plants are at the restoration site many die due to transplant stress. Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) may be able to shorten the time the restoration plants need to stay in the nursery by increasing the plant’s growth rate. AMF may also increase survival by decreasing transplant stress. To determine if S. alternifora and J. roemerianus are naturally colonized by AMF, wild plants were collected and examined for AMF colonization. Collections took place in the fall and spring to determine if there was seasonal variation in colonization. Spore-trap trays were utilized to determine if AMF colonization could be transferred from one naturally colonized wild collected plant to an un-colonized plant. A commercial AMF inoculant was tested to determine if the inoculant was able to successfully colonize salt marsh plants and to determine an effect on growth rates or biomass. The wild plant collections showed that S. alternifora and J. roemerianus were naturally colonized by AMF and the colonization appeared to be seasonally influenced. The spore-trap trays did show that AMF colonization was able to transfer from one wild-collected colonized plant to an un-colonized plant. The commercial inoculant was not as successful at colonizing the salt marsh plants as the sporetrap trays were. The results suggest that naturally occurring AMF which are present in a salt marsh are more successful at colonizing plants and may be a better option for plant-based restoration projects in the future.

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