Ericoid mycorrhizas in blueberries

Last changed: 25 October 2023

Blueberries and other plants belonging to the Ericaceae form mycorrhizal symbiosis with ericoid mycorrhizal fungi. The root system of wild blueberry plants is shallow and the fine hair roots are commonly colonised by mycorrhizal fungi. The fungal hyphae contribute to plant nutrient uptake by releasing enzymes hydrolysing organically bound nitrogen and phosphorus. Released nutrients are taken up by the hyphae and transported to the host plant. The fungus may also contribute to the uptake of micronutrients.

In Sweden, commercial production of highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) and V. corymbosum x V. angustifolium hybrids is increasing. On commercial blueberry farms, the plants are often established in peat-based substrates to ensure a low pH and improve soil organic matter content, physical conditions and water holding capacity. Inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi during plantlet production may improve early nutrient uptake and plant establishment. Positive effects, no influence, or even negative effects of ericoid mycorrhizal fungi have been observed after inoculation of cultivated blueberries. The effect depends not only on the fungal isolate - blueberry cultivar combination, but also on the amount and composition of fertilizers.

In this project, we investigate the influence of mycorrhizal inoculation and organic fertilizers on plant establishment, nutrient uptake and yield for two highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) cultivars. 


Funding: SLU Ekoforsk