INFLUENCE OF <em>CASUARINA</em> <em>EQUISETIFOLIA</em> WITH <em>FRANKIA</em> AS HOST PLANT ON GROWTH AND NUTRIENT IMPROVEMENT OF <em>SANTALUM</em> <em>ALBUM</em>
Keywords:Actinobacteria, biomass, nursery, nitrogen, aromatic tree
Santalum album is a commercially important tree for its aromatic heart wood and oil. Establishing S. album seedlings in field is difficult due to its semi parasitic nature. It requires a host to thrive and survive. In this study the C. equisetifolia was selected as host along with nitrogen fixing actinobacteria Frankia for S. album in nursery to understand their relationship. Both S. album and C. equisetifolia seedlings were propagated in nursery and the cultured Frankia in P agar medium was inoculated in C. equisetifolia seedlings. The S. album seedlings were grown in soil along with C. equisetifolia (+/- Frankia). After 120 days, the seedling of S. album was harvested and found improvement in growth and nutrient uptake. S. album seedlings with the host of C. equisetifolia along with Frankia showed significantly improved root length (38.3 cm seedling-1), shoot length (45.2 cm seedling-1), root collar diameter (3.2 cm seedling-1), 14.2 haustorial attachment seedling-1, shoot biomass (1.96 g seedling-1), root biomass (0.72 g seedling-1) and showed lowest root/shoot ratio (0.36). The nutrient contents particularly N was significantly found in S. album seedlings associated with C. equisetifolia + Frankia. The result showed that essential nutrient nitrogen transfer was mediated through the nitrogen fixing bacteria to C. equisetifolia and absorbed by S. album. In conclusion, the combination of C. equisetifolia + Frankia provided suitable host for the growth and biomass improvement in S. album seedlings.