Biotic soil factors affecting the growth and development of Ammophila arenaria

W H van der Putten, C van Dijk, S R Troelstra
Oecologia 1988, 76 (2): 313-320
To study the origin of replant disease of Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link the growth and development in sand originating from the rhizosphere of a natural Ammophila vegetation was compared with the growth in sand from the sea-floor. In a greenhouse experiment, the growth of Ammophila seedlings in rhizosphere sand, when compared with that in sea sand, was significantly reduced. As sterilization by means of gamma-irradiation increased the biomass production of Ammophila seedlings significantly, it was concluded that the rhizosphere sand contained biotic factors that were harmful to Ammophila. In rhizosphere sand the roots of Ammophila were brown and poorly developed, and the specific uptake rates of N, P and K were reduced. The shoot weight proportion of the total plant dry matter was hardly influenced. In an outdoor experiment with Ammophila seedlings and cuttings, using both sands, the mortality was high and the plants were feeble in rhizosphere sand whereas plants in sea sand grew vigorously. It seems plausible that the plants in rhizophere sand were dessicated because the root system was shallow and badly developed. In the greenhouse experiments, Ammophila cuttings were less sensitive to the inhibiting factors in the rhizosphere than seedlings. This was confirmed in the outdoor experiment. Calammophila baltica (Fluegge ex Schrader) Brand, however, was hardly affected by the harmful biotic factors in the greenhouse. These results are discussed with reference to the ecology of Ammophila. It is assumed that the catching of fresh windblown sand provides Ammophila with a way to escape from harmful biotic soil factors, and it was concluded that degeneration of Ammophila is caused mainly by self-intolerance due to these biotic soil factors.

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