Desert Plants

pp 121-134


Aspects of Mycorrhizae in Desert Plants

  • Martha E. AppleAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Montana Tech of the University of Montana Email author 

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Mycorrhizal symbioses are critical to desert plants since they face the challenges of scarce, sporadic precipitation, nutrient deficiencies, intense solar radiation, and the high temperatures found in hot deserts. Deserts are covering increasingly more of the Earth's surface area as desertification increases globally. Mycorrhizal desert plants have a greater chance of survival in the harsh desert environment. Desert plants form mycorrhizae with endomycorrhizal arbuscular fungi and with ectomycorrhizal fungi. Both form extensive networks of hyphae in the soil, and glomalin, a glycoprotein produced by hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, is crucial in soil structure and carbon storage. Mycorrhizal desert plants are important in agriculture, ecosystem biology, and conservation of the deserts.