The Chilean matorral is a heavily threatened Mediterranean-type ecosystem due to human-related activities such as anthropogenic fires. Mycorrhizal fungi may be the key microorganisms to help plants cope with environmental stress and improve the restoration of degraded ecosystems. However, the application of mycorrhizal fungi in the restoration of the Chilean matorral is limited because of insufficient local information. Consequently, we assessed the effect of mycorrhizal inoculation on the survival and photosynthesis at set intervals for two years after a fire event in four native woody plant species, namely: Peumus boldus, Quillaja saponaria, Cryptocarya alba, and Kageneckia oblonga, all dominant species of the matorral. Additionally, we assessed the enzymatic activity of three enzymes and macronutrient in the soil in mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants. The results showed that mycorrhizal inoculation increased survival in all studied species after a fire and increased photosynthesis in all, but not in P. boldus. Additionally, the soil associated with mycorrhizal plants had higher enzymatic activity and macronutrient levels in all species except in Q. saponaria, in which there was no significant mycorrhization effect. The results suggest that mycorrhizal fungi could increase the fitness of plants used in restoration initiatives after severe disturbances such as fires and, consequently, should be considered for restoration programs of native species in threatened Mediterranean ecosystems.
- Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs)
- arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
- sclerophyllous forest