The Botanical Review

, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 108–155 | Cite as

Studies on Ectomycorrhiza: An Appraisal

  • Jitender Kumar
  • N. S. AtriEmail author


Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi are obligate symbionts of dominant vascular plants, liverworts and hornworts. There are reports of about 20,000 to 25,000 ECM fungi that promote plant growth by facilitating enhanced water and nutrient absorption, and provide tolerance to environmental stresses. These below-ground fungi play a key role in terrestrial ecosystems as they regulate plant diversity, nutrient and carbon cycles, and influence soil structure and ecosystem multifunctionality. Because ECM fungi are obligate root symbionts, host plant can have a strong effect on ECM species richness and community composition. The biogeographic pattern and detailed functioning and regulation of these mycorrhizosphere processes are still poorly understood and require detailed study. More recent researches have placed emphasis on a wider, multifunctional perspective, including the effects of ectomycorrhizal symbiosis on plant and microbial communities, and on ecosystem processes. Over the years the main focus in ECM research has been on the study of diversity and specificity of ECM strains, the role of ECM in regeneration of degraded ecosystem, the growth and establishment of seedlings through nutrient acquisition and the mediation of plant responses to various types of stress. In this review, recent progresses in ectomycorrhizal biology are presented, especially the potential role of ECM symbioses in resistance or tolerance to various biotic and abiotic stresses, and in maintinance of plant diversity for proper ecosystem functioning.


Ectomycorrhizal symbiosis Ecosystem Evolution ECM diversity Afforestation 



We are grateful to Mélanie Roy and another anonymous reviewer for their useful comments on the manuscript. Thanks are due to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, India for financial assistance under CSIR-JRF fellowship scheme to the first author. To University Grants Commission we are indebted for giving liberal grants to the department under SAP programme and to Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for grant under IPLS programme.

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© The New York Botanical Garden 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyPunjabi UniversityPatialaIndia

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