Development of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi-Organic Fertilizer Pellets Encapsulated with Alginate Film
A novel formulation consisting of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) spores mixed with sterilized organic fertilizer (AMF-F) encapsulated by an insoluble calcium alginate film was developed to enhance AMF efficacy and stability. The hardness of the pellets increased from 7–8 N to approximately 80 N by increasing the alginate concentration of the coating film from 1 to 3%. The AMF spore germination rate for the AMF and AMF-F pellets coated with calcium alginate films depended on the alginate concentration. A 2% sodium alginate formulation for the coating films resulted in optimal AMF spore germination rates and mechanical properties for handling, transport, and stability. The inclusion of a sterilized organic fertilizer in the encapsulated AMF-F pellets considerably induced AMF mycelial growth and helped prolong the shelf life of the pellets. In soil, the AMF-F pellets encapsulated with alginate initially degraded faster than the alginate-encapsulated AMF pellets. However, both types of pellets were fully degraded within 30 days. It was demonstrated that AMF and AMF-F could promote colonization and provided resistance to drought stress in maize potted plants.