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Citation. Johnson, N. C.; Copeland, P. J.; Crookston, R. K.; Pfleger, F. L. 1992. Mycorrhizae: possible explanation for yield decline with continuous corn and soybean. Agronomy Journal 84:387-390. [1090 LTER]
Abstract. Earlier studies showed that mycorrhizal fungi selectively proliferate in soils cropped in monoculture to corn (Zea mays L.) or soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]. This study evaluated whether the dominant mycorrhizal fungi, based on spore numbers present in soil, affected growth and nutrient uptake of the following crop. Plots at two locations in Minnesota with a continuous corn or continuous soybean history were planted to both corn and soybean. The relationship between spore numbers of proliferating species of mycorrhizal fungi and crop yield and nutrient concentrations were assessed using simple correlation analysis. Spore populations of mycorrhizal fungi which proliferated in corn were generally negatively correlated with the yield and tissue mineral concentrations of corn, but were positively correlated with the yield and tissue mineral concentrations of soybean. Spore populations of soybean proliferators exhibited the reciprocal relationship, although less clearly. We suggest that, compared to other fungi, proliferating VAM fungal species may be less beneficial (or perhaps detrimental) to the crop in which they proliferate. We propose a mechanism to explain how vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi could cause yield depressions associated with monoculture, and outline research needed to test this hypothesis.