Effect of soil pH and sewage sludge on VA mycorrhizal infection of soybeans

J. S. Angle, J. R. Heckman

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31 Scopus citations


Small plots were amended in 1976 or 1978 with four kinds of sewage sludge. The sludges represented samples considered to be relatively free of heavy metals as well as sludges highly contaminated with heavy metals. Sludges were added to a silt loam soil at rates of 224 or 448 Mgha-1. The soils were maintained at a high or low pH regime. In 1984, soybeans (Glycine max L. Merril. var. 'Clark') were planted and grown to the R4 stage. After harvest, roots were removed from the soil, washed, and examined for VA mycorrhizal infection. It was found that the heavy metal content of the sludge alone was generally not related to determining the extent of mycorrhizal infection. A heat treated sludge, high in heavy metals, exhibited the highest degree of mycorrhizal infection when the soil was maintained at a pH of 6.2. With this treatment, 52% of the root segments examined were infected by mycorrhiza. When the same sludge was added to a soil with a slightly lower pH (5.7) none of the roots examined were infected by mycorrhiza. When soybean roots were examined from soils that received no sludge and were maintained at either a low (5.6) or high (6.2) pH, there was no significant difference in mycorrhizal infection between the pH regimes. These results therefore indicate that sewage sludge may inhibit mycorrhizal infection if the sludge contains a high concentration of heavy metals and the sludge is applied to the soil with a low pH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1986
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


  • Glycine max
  • Heavy metals
  • Symbiosis


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