Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) diversity and functions in arid lands

Project Leader: Dr. Mohamed Al'Yahya-ei
Team member: Sarah Symanczik

The general aim of this project is to shed light on the diversity and functioning of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) communities in arid lands. Our model ecosystem is Oman in the south of the Arabian Peninsula. The climate of Oman is characterized as hyperarid with high summer temperatures. Natural and agricultural ecosystems are investigated. The project has three main themes: biodiversity, functions and conservation.

Biodiversity
We recently revealed a unique community containing four new species in addition to four others newly reported in Arabia. Morphological and molecular investigations of AMF from ecosystems in Oman will continue to reveal the community composition of unexplored habitats.

Functions
We try to answer basic questions related to the responseof AMF communites to hyperarid conditions, for example twith respect to the availability of water, a main factor determining life options in such habitats.

Conservation
We evaluate the practicality of introducing AMF for promoting growth of rare endemic desert plants. Using a combination of some of the newly isolated AMF species, the aim is to develop a desert-specific AMF inoculum.