Soil Stabilization

In addition to direct benefits of plant growth and health, the contribution of fungal mycelium to soil aggregation and soil organic matter development may be a critical component to most restoration programs (Miller and Jastrow 1991). The role of fungi in enhancing soil stabilization is two-fold. First, the extraradical hyphae of AM fungi, together with fine roots, physically bind soil particles into larger macroaggregate units (Miller and Jastrow 1990). Second, AM fungi channel a significant amount of carbon into the soil by which soil particles and organic material become bound, contributing to soil aggregation and stability (Rillig et al. 1999). Typically, there are between 1-20m of AM hyphae/g of soil (Sylvia 1990). In cold deserts, Allen and MacMahon (1985) reported hyphal length of 2-6 m/g of soil. Treseder and Allen (2001) reported similar values (2-4 m of live AM hyphae/g of soil) in a chaparral ecosystem. In contrast, Miller et al. (1995) found that soils associated with mycotrophic plants in tallgrass prairie had 111 m/cm3 and Allen and Allen (1988) reported that in Wyoming sagebrush steppe, AM fungi produced 28-54m total hyphae/g of soil. The significant contribution of fungal hyphae to the formation of stable soil aggregates that prevent wind and water erosion which may be crucial to restoration success (Miller and Jastrow 1991) and carbon sequestration (Jastrow et al. 1996).

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