Saltmarshes are highly productive ecosystems that provide nursery and refuge habitat for animals, buffer storm-wave effects, and stabilize coastlines. Unfortunately, saltmarshes are in decline due to several cumulative stressors. Beneficial root-associated fungi are known to colonize >80% of land plants, but are understudied in intertidal zones. We examined arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in the roots of 2 dominant saltmarsh cordgrasses, Spartina patens (Saltmarsh Hay) and Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass) (Poaceae), in the Minas Basin, NS, Canada. We collected 9 sediment cores at the beginning, middle, and end of the 2016 growing season (May–September) for each plant species (n = 54). We examined AMF root colonization using microscopy and fungal-DNA barcoding. Smooth Cordgrass had an AMF root colonization rate of 9%, while Saltmarsh Hay exhibited a higher AMF root colonization rate of 68%. We identified 1 AMF species, Funneliformis geosporum (Glomeraceae), in both host-plant species. We present the first Spartina spp. (cordgrasses) AMF root-colonization data for northeastern North America north of Connecticut, which may aid saltmarsh restoration efforts in Nova Scotia.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1