Tropical montane forests are threatened by uncontrolled fire events because of agricultural expansion. Consequently, deforested areas frequently are dominated by the bracken fern, Pteridium spp., for long periods, and forest regeneration is limited. Despite considerable research on bracken-dominated ecosystems, little is known about the relationship between bracken mycorrhizal fungi and tree seedlings. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) form symbiotic relationships with terrestrial plants, providing nutrients and protection against pathogens and promoting seedling growth and establishment. Therefore, AMF inoculum have high potential for forest restoration programs. Here, we compare the species diversity of AMF spores, root colonization, and seedling growth of Clusia trochiformis 1 year after the addition of different liquefied root inocula: forest conspecific, forest heterospecific, and from Pteridium rhizomes. Thirteen morphospecies of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi were identified on the roots of C. trochiformis, and Glomus spp. were the most abundant in all treatments. No differences were observed in spore species richness and diversity among treatments, but spore density was the highest subsequent to the Pteridium inoculum. There was no significant difference in mycorrhizal root colonization and seedling growth of C. trochiformis among inoculated treatments. We found a positive relation between root colonization and total biomass. This study shows that the AMF communities in bracken areas and forests present similar characteristics and that the bracken fern does not limit AMF inoculum potential, favouring seedling growth of Clusia.
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© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.