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Sustainable Cork Oak Restoration – Mycorrhizal Strategies and Companion Plant Dynamics
 
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1
Botany and Development of Plant and Fungal Resources, Plant and Microbial Biotechnology Research Centre, Biodiversity and Environment, Faculty of Science, Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco
 
2
Centre de Recherche Forestière, Rabat, Morocco
 
3
Plants, Animals, and Agro-Industry Productions Laboratory, Faculty of Sciences, Ibn Tofail University, BP 133, Kenitra 14000, Morocco
 
4
Laboratory of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Ibn Tofail University, BP 133, Kenitra 14000, Morocco
 
 
Corresponding author
Amine Rkhaila   

Plants, Animals, and Agro-Industry Productions Laboratory, Faculty of Sciences, Ibn Tofail University, BP 133, Kenitra 14000, Morocco
 
 
Ecol. Eng. Environ. Technol. 2024; 9
 
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ABSTRACT
Mycorrhizal associations play a pivotal role in maintaining Mediterranean maquis and xerophilous grasslands, thereby contributing to erosion prevention and desertification mitigation in arid and semi-arid regions. The present study aims to elucidate this plant-fungus relationship to ensure the ecological restoration of Quercus suber, by exploring mycorrhizal colonization rates under diversified experimental conditions. The data reveal an absence of mycorrhizal colonization in the negative control group (Q.s = Quercus suber), while the positive control group (Q.s. + Terfezia spp.) exhibits a significant colonization rate of 15.2 ± 6.2%. More notably, the Q.s. + Terfezia + Helianthemum guttatum and Cistus salviifolius group displays the highest colonization rate at 47.0 ± 8.4%, suggesting advantageous synergy among Helianthemum guttatum, Cistus salviifolius, and Q. suber. This observation is supported by seedling growth data, wherein groups with increased colonization demonstrate greater aboveground height. Particularly, the Q.s. + T + H.g. + C.s. group shows a height of 12.0 ± 3.0 cm, illustrating the beneficial impact of these symbiotic associations on cork oak seedling development. Furthermore, chemical analysis of soils from the Maâmora forest provides relevant insights into conditions conducive to Quercus suber ectomycorrhization. Moderately acidic pH values, low calcium carbonate content, as well as appropriate levels of organic matter, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium characterize these soils. In addition to these data, microscopic examination of roots confirms the presence of Terfezia spp. hyphae, indicating mycorrhizal formation without the characteristic structures of ectomycorrhizae. This microscopic observation adds an additional dimension to our understanding of the complex interactions among host plants, mycorrhizal fungi, and soil properties.
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