Boric acid-phenolic relationships within the Pinus echinata-Pisolithus tinctorius ectomycorrhizal association
At germination, container-grown shortleaf pine seedlings were inoculated with Pisolithus tinctorius (Pers.) Coker & Couch or left uninoculated, and both groups were fertilized semiweekly with a modified Hoagland’s solution supplemented with 0 or 0.4 mM boric acid. After 12, 16 and 24 weeks, seedling root tissue was analyzed for ectomycorrhizal colonization, phenolic concentration and phenoloxidase activity. In addition, phenoloxidase activity was assayed in P. tinctorius that had been cultured in a liquid medium containing boric acid. Inoculation with P. tinctorius increased the root phenolic concentration of 16- and 24-week-old seedlings, and increased root phenoloxidase activity in 12-, 16- and 24-week-old seedlings. Fertilization with boric acid reduced the phenolic concentration of P. tinctorius ectomycorrhizae after 24 weeks. Although boric acid fertilization did not affect the phenoloxidase activity of 12-, 16- and 24-week-old inoculated roots, or that of 16- and 24-week-old uninoculated roots, it increased the phenoloxidase activity of P. tinctorius grown in vitro and 12-week-old uninoculated roots. We conclude that boric acid fertilization influences the phenolic relations of the shortleaf pine-P. tinctorius ectomycorrhizal association, possibly through a boric acid-induced increase in phenoloxidase activity.