In vitro assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on AMF

There is a growing evidence that the application of biocontrol organisms like arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are key players in an integrated control strategy against pests and diseases. AMF are key soil microorganisms that form symbiotic associations with the vast majority of agricultural and horticultural crops improving their growth and resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. Thus, they are of wide importance in agricultural practices. Nowadays, biocontrol is strongly dependent on synthetic pesticides. However, these molecules may also affect non-target organisms, representing a threat to the environmental services they provide. There is thus an increasing need to explore the effects of pesticides on the AMF and their functions in ecosystems. The ARISTO project aims to develop tools and procedures to assess the toxicity of pesticides on soil organisms, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Our study aims to optimize and standardize an in vitro culture system to assess the toxicity of a range of pesticides used in agricultural production.

My project is part of the European Industry - Academia network (ARISTO) for revising and advancing the assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF)

The specific objectives of the project:

1. To establish, optimize and standardize a fast-track in vitro cultivation system to evaluate the toxicity of a broad-range of pesticides (i.e. fungicides, herbicides, insecticides) on the asymbiotic (i.e. spore germination) and symbiotic (colony development, root colonization) phases of the AMF life cycle.

2. To explore the impact of pesticides on functional attributes (i.e. transport of minerals, effects on plant protection) of AMF.

3. To elucidate the potential mechanisms of toxicity of the different pesticides tested or the mechanism of resistance against the pesticides developed by the AMF

This project has an inter-connection with Anna Manukian’s project.

Root cultivation and maintenance method

Fig. 1. The maintenance of AMF in in vitro conditions needs regular maintenance of host roots.

Production of spores

Fig. 2. This protocol explains how to produce AM fungal spores in in vitro conditions.

Assessing the toxicity of pesticides on AM fungal spore germination

Fig. 3. To study the impact of pesticides on the spore germination process of AMF.