Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi communities shaped by host-plant affect the outcome of plant-soil feedback in dryland restoration.
Plant inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can be a useful tool to overcome challenges in dry forest restoration. However, advances are still needed to guide choices regarding soil origin and inoculum production methods, since outcomes can vary due to plant-soil feedbacks (PSF). We evaluate how soil origin and host plant used for inoculum production affect AMF community and therefore the plant biomass accumulation and functional traits.In the conditioning phase, we investigated whether soils originating from a recovered area (Quarry) and a vegetation fragment (Caatinga) would have their AMF communities modified due to the growth of Sorghum bicolor (used for inoculum production) and Senna uniflora (used in Brazilian semiarid restoration). In the feedback phase, we compared the performance of four plants species growing on a degraded soil and inoculated or not by a mixture of AMF isolates in comparison to soil inoculum prepared from the conditioning phase. The inoculum from Caatinga presented seven times more AMF species compared to that from the Quarry, which presented ruderal and stress tolerant species. The soil inoculum conditioned by S. uniflora, regardless of origin, presented greater evenness compared to the soil inoculum produced with S. bicolor and promoted 33% more plant biomass compared to the control without inoculation. Root colonization by AMF increased PSF and decreased plant investment in functional traits such as specific root length (SRL) and specific leaf area (SLA). Our results demonstrate the importance of adopting strategies that preserve local adaptation of inoculants produced. The use of native plant for propagation of native AMF in the conditioning phase provided more positive responses for Mesosphaerum suaveolens and Rhaphiodon echinus than inoculated with introduced AMF isolates. This is probably due to the interaction of inoculated plants with responsive AMF present in the soil.Synthesis and applications. Our study shows that conditioning field-collected soil with Senna uniflora and using it for inoculation can be a simple technique to promote biomass accumulation for other native herbaceous species. This preserves the compatibility between the soil inoculum produced with native AMF and native plants, representing an important tool for restoration programs.