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CYANOBACTERIA AND CYANOLICHENS: CAN THEY ENHANCE AVAILABILITY OF ESSENTIAL MINERALS FOR HIGHER PLANTS?
Kimball T. Harper and Rosemary L. Pendleton
The Great Basin Naturalist
Vol. 53, No. 1 (31 March 1993), pp. 59-72
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41712758
Page Count: 14
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In both field and greenhouse studies, cyanobacteria and cyanolichens of cold-temperate deserts often enhance growth and essential element uptake by associated herbs. That effect is associated with better seedling establishment and larger seedlings. The following are possible mechanisms for these effects: (1) the microbiota concentrate essential elements in available forms in soil surface layers, (2) the microbial surface covers are usually darker colored than the soil itself and produce warmer soils during cool seasons when soil water is most available, (3) the gelatinous sheaths of several cyanobacterial genera common on alkaline deserts contain chelating compounds, and (4) conditions that favor persistent microbial growths on soil surfaces also favor maintenance of larger populations of microorganisms that form mycorrhizal and/or rhizosheath associations with seed plants. There is evidence that associated animals maybe nutritionally benefited by the enhanced mineral content of forage plants growing in well-developed cyanobacterial crusts.
The Great Basin Naturalist © 1993 Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University