Commercial Inoculum

It is relatively simple to produce sufficient volumes of inoculum for small research studies, but it is extremely difficult to produce sufficient quantities of inoculum to support commercial nursery inoculation. Since 1976, several formulations of vegetative and spore inocula of "super-strain" of Pisolithus tinctorius were produced commercially (e.g., inoculum trademarked MycoRhiz®) and used in large scale for inoculation of millions of bareroot and containerized pine and oak seedlings in USA (Marx 1991). In France, a company called Somycel produced vegetative beads inoculum, which substantially increased reforestation effort of coniferous trees followed by nursery inoculation (Kropp and Langlois 1990).

Numerous entities of international, national, or local importance produce and offer ECM fungal inocula for commercial purposes. For example, several European producers of mycorrhizal fungi inocula constituted organization called "Federation of European Mycorrhizal Fungi Producers" (FEMFiP) in 2003, aimed to achieve and maintain high standards for these products in Europe (Federation of European Mycorrhizal Fungi Producers 2010). The most products of FEMFiP contain arbuscular fungi and are intended to horticulture, agriculture, and landscape sectors. The companies PlantWorks Ltd. (Great Britain, product TerraVital), Biorize (France, product Ectorize), and Symbio-m (Czech Republic, product Ectovit) offer ECM inocula for inoculation of forest tree species.

Spore and mycelial inocula are used in operational scale to match the ECM fungi to the host and environment in which they are required to thrive. Natural biostimulants and ingredients supporting the development of ECM symbiosis (natural humates, sea-grass extracts, ground minerals) are usually added to commercial inoculum. Inoculation techniques are in principle the same as described in Sects. 3.4.2 and 3.5. Compared to research-scale inoculum formulations, gel formulation (slurry), prepared by diluting ECM inoculum containing naturally degrad-able granules of water-retaining gel in water, is more frequently used in a commercial scale. The slurry can be sprayed onto the substrate before seed sowing, into the rooting zone of transplanted seedlings, or root systems of seedlings can be dipped into the slurry. The production and marketing of inocula on a commercial scale increased recently and further potential appears to be quite large.

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