Summary 1. Poa annua (annual meadow‐grass or annual bluegrass) is the most problematic weed of temperate zone golf putting greens. In the UK there are no chemicals approved for its control, although several herbicides and plant growth regulators are available in the USA. Reducing P. annua levels in fine turf would greatly reduce the heavy reliance on pesticides and water that currently exists. 2. This paper reports on an observational and a manipulative study in golf putting greens, aimed at determining whether arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have any potential for the reduction of this weed in fine turf. 3. All 18 greens on three golf courses were sampled, and in two courses a negative relation between AM fungi and P. annua abundance was found, upholding previous results. In greens where AM fungi were relatively common (as measured by root colonization), P. annua was rare, and vice versa. Furthermore, when the fungi were common, abundance of the desirable turfgrass Agrostis stolonifera was greater. 4. Two explanations are suggested for these relations, a competitive one, in which AM fungi alter the balance of competition between the two grasses, and an antagonistic one, in which the fungi may directly reduce the growth of P. annua. 5. In a manipulative experiment, where mycorrhizal inoculum was added to a golf green, the colonization level of A. stolonifera roots was enhanced, as was the abundance of this grass. Furthermore, there was a suggestion that adding inoculum could decrease the abundance of P. annua. 6. AM fungi have the potential to be a much more environmentally sound method of P. annua control in sports turf than the currently used chemicals.
Journal of Applied Ecology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1999
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