Greer, CW, Onwuchekwa, N, Zwiazek, J, Quoreshi, A, Roy, S, Salifu, KF & Khasa, DP 2011, 'Enhanced revegetation and reclamation of oil sands disturbed sites using actinorhizal and mycorrhizal biotechnology', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Beersing (eds), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 19-26, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1152_03_Greer
A functional soil microbial community is crucial for plant growth and survival and a key component for successful land reclamation. Mycorrhizal fungi, a component of the microbial community, play an essential role in plant nutrient uptake, water relations, and buffer plants against biotic and abiotic stresses to enhance ecosystem establishment. Actinorhizal bacteria, such as Frankia spp., another component of the soil microbial community, help plants establish in nutrient poor soils by supplying plants with atmospherically fixed nitrogen. Newly reconstructed landscapes after oil sands exploitation may be characterised by low soil organic matter, high salinity and alkalinity, low nutrient status, and limited microbial activity. Several organic amending materials are used to cap reconstructed soils in order to support plant community establishment. However, landscape disturbance may result in destruction of mycorrhizal fungal networks and affect actinorhizal bacterial numbers in soil. Therefore, ensuring the development of functional symbioses in trees and shrubs during greenhouse production before outplanting, is an important biotechnological approach to the reclamation of oil sands disturbed lands. In the present study, actinorhizal alders (Alnus viridis ssp crispa and A. incana ssp. rugosa) and ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) inoculated Jack pine (Pinus banksina Lamb.) and White spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) seedlings were outplanted on the Suncor MD5 reclaimed overburden site. The study was designed to evaluate the impact on survival and growth of inoculating plants prior to outplanting. The seedling volume index (SVI) or plot volume index (PVI) were used to evaluate field performance and compare inoculated verses uninoculated plants. In all cases inoculated plants outperformed uninoculated plants. Inoculated alders had a SVI that was 3- to 4-fold greater than uninoculated plants. In addition, alder rhizosphere bacterial populations showed increases in diversity and catabolic activity. There were significant increases in the PVI of ECM inoculated white spruce and jack pine seedlings when compared with uninoculated controls. These preliminary results, after two growth seasons, show promise in the use of pre-inoculated seedlings in enhancing growth and establishment of alders and conifers on oil sands reclamation sites. Knowledge gained from this research will increase our understanding of actinorhizal and ECM symbioses with forest seedlings on reclamation sites and their ability to accelerate successful revegetation and reclamation.
CAPP (2009) Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Land Use in Canada’s Oil Sands, Publication number 2009–0023,
Cerdà, A. (1997) The effect of patchy distribution of Stipa tenacissima L. on runoff and erosion, Journal of Arid Environments, Vol. 36, pp. 37–51.
Duñabeitia, M., Rodriguez, N., Salcedo, I. and Sarrionandia, E. (2004) Field mycorrhization and its influence on the establishment and development of the seedlings in a broadleaf plantation in the Basque Country, Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 195, pp. 129–139.
Fung, M.Y. and Macyk, T.M. (2000) Reclamation of Oil Sands Mining Area, Reclamation of Drastically Disturbed Lands, R.I. Barnhisel, R.G. Darmody and W.L. Daniels (eds), American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, Madison, pp. 755–774.
Greer, C.W., Fortin, N., Roy, R., Whyte, L.G. and Lee, K. (2003) Indigenous sediment microbial activity in response to nutrient enrichment and plant growth following a controlled oil spill on a freshwater wetland, Bioremediation Journal, Vol. 7, pp. 69–80.
Huang, P.M., Wang, M.K. and Chiu, C.C. (2005) Soil mineral-organic matter-microbe interactions: Impact on biogeochemical processes and biodiversity in soils, Pedobiologia, Vol. 49, pp. 609–635.
Lefrançois, E., Quoreshi, A., Khasa, D.P., Fung, M., Whyte, L.G., Roy, S. and Greer, C.W. (2010) Field performance of alder-Frankia symbionts for the reclamation of oil sands sites, Applied Soil Ecology, Vol. 46, pp. 183–191.
Maestre, F.T., Bautista, S., Cortina, J., Díaz, G., Honrubia, M. and Vallejo, R. (2002) Microsite and mycorrhizal inoculum effects on the establishment of Quercus coccifera in a semi-arid degraded steppe, Ecological Engineering, Vol. 19, pp. 289–295.
Marx, D.H., Ruehle, J.L. and Cordell, C.E. (1991) Methods for studying nursery and field response of trees to specific ectomycorrhiza, Techniques for Mycorrhizal Research, J.R. Norris, D. Read and A.K. Varma (eds), Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 384–411.
Ortega, U., Dunabeitia, M., Menendez, S., Gonzalez-Murua, C. and Majada, J. (2004) Effectiveness of mycorrhizal inoculation in the nursery on growth and water relation of Pinus radiate in different water regimes, Tree Physiology, Vol. 24, pp. 64–73.
Parlade, J., Luque, J., Pera, J. and Ricon, A.M. (2004) Field performance of Pinus pinea and P. halepensis seedlings inoculated with Rhizopogon spp. and outplanted in formerly arable land, Annals of Forest Science, Vol. 61,
Pera, J., Alvarez, I.F., Rincón, A. and Parlade, J. (1999) Field performance in northern Spain of Douglas-fir seedlings inoculated with ectomycorrhizal fungi, Mycorrhiza, Vol. 9, pp. 77–84.
Perry, D.A., Molina, R. and Amaranthus, M.P. (1987) Mycorrhizae, mycorrhizospheres, and reforestation: current knowledge and research needs, Canadian Journal of Forestry Research, Vol. 17, pp. 929–940.
Quoreshi, A.M., Roy, S., Greer, C.W., Beaudin, J., McCurdy, D. and Khasa, D.P. (2007) Response of green alder (Alnus crispa) to Frankia-ectomycorrhizal fungal inoculation under operational nursery production conditions, Native Plants Journal, Vol. 1, pp. 271–281.
Ringe, J.M. and Graves, D.H. (1990) The economics of mycorrhizal inoculations and wood-base mulches in the reforestation of surface mines, International Journal of Surface Mining and Reclamation, Vol. 4, pp. 47–52.
Roy, S., Khasa, D.P. and Greer, C.W. (2007) Combining alders, frankiae, and mycorrhizae for the revegetation and remediation of contaminated ecosystems, Canadian Journal of Botany, Vol. 85, pp. 237–251.