Root Biology pp 367-407 | Cite as

Morphological and Physiological Aspects of Symbiotic Plant–Microbe Interactions and Their Significance

  • Surinder Kaur
  • Gurpreet Kaur
Part of the Soil Biology book series (SOILBIOL, volume 52)


All living organisms seem to have a large number of interactions among themselves, but mutualism is of special interest ecologically and evolutionarily. Mutualism is a general term in which two organisms interact where either one (commensalism) or both are benefitted (symbiosis). Plants in nature always grow among soil microorganisms, and some of these become closely associated with plants to form mutualistic symbioses. Examples of such symbiotic microorganisms include N2-fixing prokaryotes (Rhizobium) and mycorrhizal fungi of various types. These associations affect fitness and survival of plants. It is particularly true for mycorrhiza which promotes better absorption of nutrients, while Rhizobium itself is involved in fulfilling nitrogen requirements of the plant. Such interactions involve a large number of cross talks by means of surface chemistry and release of chemicals. Host–symbiont specificity is the key feature in symbiotic interactions. Besides providing nutritional benefits to their hosts, mycorrhizal fungi also contribute toward ecological significance such as decreased susceptibility to biotic diseases; improved tolerance to abiotic stresses such as heavy metals, drought, and salinity; resistance to invasion by weeds; and synergistic interaction with other useful soil microbes. Interestingly Rhizobium is able to fix nitrogen for the host crop plants even in highly arid conditions and improve productivity in such unfavorable conditions. In view of their importance in plant growth and development, this chapter highlights the morphology, systematics, and ecological significance of the most important plant–microbe symbionts–Rhizobium, mycorrhizae, and a growth-promoting endophyte, Piriformospora indica.


Symbiosis associations Endophytes Rhizobium Mycorrhizal fungi Piriformospora indica 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Surinder Kaur
    • 1
  • Gurpreet Kaur
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany, SGTB Khalsa CollegeUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia

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