Mosaic stunting, the occurrence of random patches of chlorotic seedlings with reduced shoot and diameter growth amidst more robust cohorts within bareroot nurseries, is classically associated with poor colonization by mycorrhizal fungi. We examined possible relationships among soil fertility, mycorrhizas, and random patches of mosaic stunting in bareroot Pinus banksiana Lamb. and suggest this paradigm is not universal. Stunted seedlings were distributed among healthy seedlings, occupied field space for 2-3 years, and used nursery resources (i.e. irrigation, fertilization); consequently high rates of culling at harvest resulted in an economic stress for the nursery. Thus, an understanding of the cause(s) of stunting was necessary. Stunted 1 + 0 seedlings had significantly lower levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc than their healthy cohorts, despite similar soil nutrient levels. The numbers of mycorrhizal root tips on stunted and healthy seedlings were similar, and the taxa of mycorrhizal fungi, determined by isolations and DNA sequencing, were not consistently associated with stunted or healthy seedlings. We conclude that differences in Pinus banksiana mycorrhizas are not responsible for mosaic stunting, but may be caused by localized low soil N availability due to uneven distribution of added organic matter amendments.
Potvin, Lynette R.; Jurgensen, Martin F.; Dumroese, R. Kasten; Richter, Dana L.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S. 2014. Mosaic stunting in bareroot Pinus banksiana seedlings is unrelated to colonization by mycorrhizal fungi. New Forests. 45(6): 893-903.