Mycorrhizal Inoculation Increases Growth and Induces Changes in Specific Polyphenol Levels in Olive Saplings

Nasir S. A. Malik, Alberto Nuñez, Lindsay C. McKeever


This study was conducted to investigate the effect of mycorrhizal symbiosis on the levels of polyphenols in olive saplings. Rooted stem cuttings of olive cultivar, ‘Arbequina’, were inoculated with AM fungus Rhizophagus intraradices. The inoculated plants showed more robust growth after six months, and after nine months the increase in the mycorrhizal plant’s height was 146%, and the increase in number of leaves was 117% when compared to uninoculated controls. Polyphenols in the methanol extracts of leaves were separated by HPLC and the peaks identified by using commercially available standard compounds and comparing retention time and the mass obtained with the mass spectrometer. Oleuropein, which is a major component of the olive leaf polyphenols, increased in mycorrhizal plants compared to uninoculated plants by 42%, and its derivatives, oleuroside and ligstroside, increased by 68% and 48%, respectively. The highest increase was found in the levels of luteolin-7’-O-glucoside (107% increase), while its sister compound luteolin-4’-O-glucoside increased by 43%. Only verbascoside levels were lower in mycorrhizal plants versus non-mycorrhizal plants declining to below detectable limits. Thus, inoculation of olive saplings with mycorrhizal fungi produces very positive effects on the levels of olive leaf polyphenols. Higher levels polyphenols mean better quality of leaf material for use as herbal medicine.

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Journal of Agricultural Science   ISSN 1916-9752 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)  E-mail:

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