The impact of biological pesticides on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have a key role for plant nutrition in organic farming systems where crop protection relies on biopesticides. Although these are considered safe, their effects on non-target organisms, such as AM fungi, are not known and should be evaluated. A pot and a field experiment were employed to investigate the impact of biological pesticides (azadirachtin, spinosad, pyrethrum and terpens) on exogenous AM fungal inoculum (pots) and on indigenous AM fungi (field). The synthetic fungicide carbendazim and non-pesticide treated controls with or without mycorrhizal inoculation were also included. Plant growth and root colonization were measured 20 and 40 days post inoculation (dpi) in the pot experiment, or 40 and 90 dpi in the field study. Pesticide effects on the structure of the intraradical AM fungal community were determined via DGGE and cloning. Spinosad, pyrethrum and terpenes did not affect the colonization ability and the structure of the AM fungal community. On the contrary, pot application of azadirachtin resulted in a selective inhibition of the Glomus etunicatum strain of the inoculum. DGGE analysis showed that the field application of azadirachtin induced significant and persistent shifts in the AM fungal community. Carbendazim completely hampered mycorrhizal colonization in pots, compared to its field application which had a transitory effect on the colonization ability and the community structure of indigenous AM fungi. Our study provides first evidence for the effects of biological pesticides on the diversity of AM fungi. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.