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Networks of power and influence: the role of mycorrhizal mycelium in controlling plant communities and agroecosystem functioning

Leake, Jonathan, Johnson, David, Donnelly, Damian, Muckle, Gemma, Boddy, Lynne ORCID: and Read, David 2004. Networks of power and influence: the role of mycorrhizal mycelium in controlling plant communities and agroecosystem functioning. Canadian Journal of Botany 82 (8) , pp. 1016-1045. 10.1139/b04-060

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Extraradical mycelia of mycorrhizal fungi are normally the �hidden half� of the symbiosis, but they are powerful underground influences upon biogeochemical cycling, the composition of plant communities, and agroecosystem functioning. Mycorrhizal mycelial networks are the most dynamic and functionally diverse components of the symbiosis, and recent estimates suggest they are empowered by receiving as much as 10% or more of the net photosynthate of their host plants. They often constitute 20%�30% of total soil microbial biomass yet are undetected by standard measures of biomass used by soil scientists and agromomists. Mycorrhizal mycelia provide extensive pathways for carbon and nutrient fluxes through soil, often exceeding tens of metres per gram of soil. We consider the amounts of photosynthate �power� allocated to these mycelial networks and how this is used in fungal respiration, biomass, and growth and in influencing soil, plant, and ecosystem processes. The costs and functional �benefits� to plants linking to these networks are fungal specific and, because of variations in physiology and host specificity, are not shared equally; some plants even depend exclusively on these networks for carbon. We briefly assess the potential contribution of extraradical mycorrhizal mycelium to sustainable agriculture and maintenance of biodiversity and highlight technologies that promise new vistas and improved fine-scale resolution of the dynamic spatial and temporal functioning of these networks in soil.Key words: arbuscular mycorrhiza, ectomycorrhiza, extraradical mycelium, hyphal networks.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Publisher: Canadian Science Publishing
ISSN: 0008-4026
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 08:32

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