Pueraria lobata, more commonly known as Kudzu, was brought from Japan to the United States in 1876. Although originally planted for erosion control, P. lobata's vigorous growth facilitated its escape and caused it to spread over vast areas of land. Today P. lobata is found predominately in the Southeastern United States where it thrives during the summer months, growing up to a foot a day. This growth leads to a vine-like canopy several layers thick with deep set roots which makes removal of the plant extremely difficult.
Research on P. lobata is limited and has focused mainly on its role in erosion control. No literature has been found to provide insights into P. lobata 's prolific growth. Mycorrhizae may, however, hold the answer. This fungus, present in the roots of many plants, enhances the uptake of essential nutrients and could provide P. lobata with the vigor it needs for such an incredible growth rate.
To determine if mycorrhizal association was present, P. lobata roots were collected, stained, and viewed for fungal structures. The presence ofvesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (V AM) was established. To further understand P. lobata's dependence on this symbiotic relationship, two factors are important. First, the extent of association between the plant and fungus can be determined by percent colonization of V AM using the magnified intersections method (McGonigle eta/., 1990). Second, experimental growth rate differences between P. lobata planted in sterile soil versus mycorrhizae rich soil would provide direct evidence of its dependence on VAM.
Sager, Christine Marie, "Discovery and Percent Colonization of Vesicular-Arbuscular Mycorrhizae in Pueraria lobata" (1996). Senior Research Projects. 115.