Mycorrhiza pp 571-593 | Cite as

Diversity and Structure in Natural Communities: The Role of the Mycorrhizal Symbiosis

  • Ian R. Sanders
  • Roger T. Koide
  • Durland L. Shumway


In this contribution we discuss several interactions between mycorrhizal fungi and their host plants. In particular we illustrate how plant communities may be affected by mycorrhizal fungi, and how mycorrhizal fungal communities may be affected by plants and plant cultural practices. The justification for the study of the mycorrhizal symbiosis at the level of the community is rooted in the fact that organisms in nature are usually assembled into interactive communities and do not exist as solitary entities. The function of the symbiosis must, therefore, be viewed in the context of communities. An important focus in ecological research in recent years has been to understand which factors regulate the structure and diversity of natural populations and communities. It has long been hypothesized that diversity may be crucial for maintaining productivity the and also the stability of ecosystems and recent experimental investigations support these ideas. Therefore, in this chapter we also discuss the role of diversity in arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal communities and the effect this may have on diversity of plant populations and communities. Although we draw extensively from the ecological literature, the concepts discussed herein are also relevant to horticulture, agronomy, forestry, and land reclamation. We believe that successful use of mycorrhizal fungi in these fields requires an essentially ecological perspective. This chapter deals primarily with the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis. We call to the reader’s attention other recent reviews on related ecological treatments of the mycorrhizal symbiosis including those by St. John and Coleman (1983), Hetrick (1984), Loree and Williams (1984), Fitter (1990), Allen (1991), Brundrett (1991), Marx (1991), Read (1991a,b), Söderström (1991), Fahey (1992), Newsham et al. (1995), among others.


Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Mycorrhizal Fungus Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Mycorrhizal Symbiosis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian R. Sanders
    • 1
  • Roger T. Koide
    • 2
  • Durland L. Shumway
    • 3
  1. 1.Abteilung PflanzenphysiologieBotanisches InstitutBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Horticulture, Tyson BuildingThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyFrostburg State UniversityFrostburgUSA

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