Plant and Soil

, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 27–35 | Cite as

An economic approach to evaluate the role of mycorrhizas in managed ecosystems

  • Murray Miller
  • Terence Mcgonigle
  • Heather Addy


The benefits of management of mycorrhizas in agricultural and horticultural croppiing systems remains problematic except where the indigenous fungal population is low. Most experiments have focused on the introduction of exotic fungal isolates. Promotion of plant growth by mycorrhizas can be enhanced by increasing the effectiveness of the indigenous fungi as well as by introducing more effective species. Lack of reliable methods for identification of fungal species colonizing roots is a major limitation to characterizing the change in mycorrhizal populations. Assessment of the role of mycorrhizas in commerical food production systems must include an economic analysis. To do so requires an evaluation of the response to increasing the effectiveness of the mycorrhizal symbiosis relative to increasing yield with addition of phosphorus fertilizer. Thus field experiments should be designed to measure the response to phosphorus addition with the existing mycorrhizal population as well as with the more effectively managed population.

In this paper we discuss changes that may be induced in mycorrhizal fungi by management to increase their effectiveness in promoting plant growth. We then suggest an economic analysis approach to assessing the potential benefits of this increase in effectiveness. We conclude with a discussion of research approaches needed to determine, in a more objective manner, the role of mycorrhizas in managed ecosystems.

Key words

agriculture arbuscular-mycorrhizas economic analysis management 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Murray Miller
    • 1
  • Terence Mcgonigle
    • 1
  • Heather Addy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GuelphGuelphCanada

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