, Volume 326, Issue 1-2, pp 3-20
Date: 19 May 2009

Plant performance in stressful environments: interpreting new and established knowledge of the roles of arbuscular mycorrhizas

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbioses are formed by approximately 80% of vascular plant species in all major terrestrial biomes. In consequence an understanding of their functions is critical in any study of sustainable agricultural or natural ecosystems. Here we discuss the implications of recent results and ideas on AM symbioses that are likely to be of particular significance for plants dealing with abiotic stresses such as nutrient deficiency and especially water stress. In order to ensure balanced coverage, we also include brief consideration of the ways in which AM fungi may influence soil structure, carbon deposition in soil and interactions with the soil microbial and animal populations, as well as plant-plant competition. These interlinked outcomes of AM symbioses go well beyond effects in increasing nutrient uptake that are commonly discussed and all require to be taken into consideration in future work designed to understand the complex and multifaceted responses of plants to abiotic and biotic stresses in agricultural and natural environments.

Responsible Editor: Peter Christie.