Growth, physiological, and biochemical responses of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) to the application of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi under cadmium stress conditions
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) is one of the most important medicinal plants used in various pharmaceutical, osmotic, health, and food industries. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) symbiosis is viewed as one of the several methods to improve growth under heavy metals stress. To investigate the effects of cadmium (Cd) and AMF bio-fertilizers on the growth and morpho-physiological characteristics of thyme, a greenhouse experiment was performed in three replications. Experimental treatments included Cd at three levels 0, 75, and 150 mg/kg of soil and AMF at three levels without inoculation, inoculation with Funneliformis etunicatum, and Funneliformis mosseae. Cadmium stressed plant showed reduced plant height, number of leaves, stem fresh and dry weight, and root fresh and dry weight while AMF inoculation enhanced the increased means of these traits considerably. Inoculation with F. mosseae also ameliorated the Cd stress (150 mg/kg) induced reduction in plant height, number of leaves, and stem and root dry weight by 13.41%, 8.42%, 30.3%, and 22.2%, respectively. Cadmium stress reduced membrane stability index while AMF inoculation enhanced membrane stability index considerably. An increase in soluble carbohydrate and proline content was observed due to Cd stress and AMF inoculation caused a further increase in these two metabolite contents ensuring better growth under Cd stressed conditions. Results indicated that F. mosseae had a higher efficiency in increasing morphological traits and improving physiological characteristics than F. etunicatum. Overall, AMF inoculation, especially F. mosseae significant ameliorative potential for Cd toxicity in thyme plants.
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