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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1980 Apr;77(4):2113-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.77.4.2113.

Ecological and evolutionary significance of mycorrhizal symbioses in vascular plants (A Review).

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

D W Malloch, K A Pirozynski, P H Raven


  1. Department of Botany, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1 Canada.

PMID: 16592806 PMCID: PMC348662 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.77.4.2113


MYCORRHIZAE, THE SYMBIOSES BETWEEN FUNGI AND PLANT ROOTS, ARE NEARLY UNIVERSAL IN TERRESTRIAL PLANTS AND CAN BE CLASSIFIED INTO TWO MAJOR TYPES: endomycorrhizae and ectomycorrhizae. About four-fifths of all land plants form endomycorrhizae, whereas several groups of trees and shrubs, notably Pinaceae, some Cupressaceae, Fagaceae, Betulaceae, Salicaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, and most Myrtaceae form ectomycorrhizae. Among legumes, Papilionoideae and Mimosoideae have endomycorrhizae and usually form bacterial nodules. The members of the third subfamily, Caesalpinioideae, rarely form nodules, and one of the included groups, the two large, pantropical, closely related tribes Amherstieae and Detarieae, regularly form ectomycorrhizae. Nodules and ectomycorrhizae may well be alternative means of supplying organic nitrogen to the plants that form them.Those plants having endomycorrhizae usually occur in forests of high species richness, whereas those with ectomycorrhizae usually occur in forests of low species richness. The roots of ectomycorrhizal trees, however, support a large species richness of fungal symbionts, probably amounting to more than 5000 species worldwide, whereas those of endomycorrhizal trees have low fungal species richness, with only about 30 species of fungi known to be involved worldwide. Ectomycorrhizal forests are generally temperate or occur on infertile soils in the tropics. They apparently have expanded in a series of ecologically important events through the course of time from the Middle Cretaceous onward at the expense of endomycorrhizal forests.


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