, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 619–638 | Cite as

Fine root endophytes under scrutiny: a review of the literature on arbuscule-producing fungi recently suggested to belong to the Mucoromycotina

  • Suzanne Orchard
  • Rachel J. Standish
  • Ian A. Dickie
  • Michael Renton
  • Christopher Walker
  • Derrick Moot
  • Megan H. Ryan


Fine root endophytes (FRE) are arbuscule-forming fungi presently considered as a single species—Glomus tenue in the Glomeromycota (Glomeromycotina)—but probably belong within the Mucoromycotina. Thus, FRE are the only known arbuscule-forming fungi not within the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF; Glomeromycotina) as currently understood. Phylogenetic differences between FRE and AMF could reflect ecological differences. To synthesize current ecological knowledge, we reviewed the literature on FRE and identified 108 papers that noted the presence of FRE and, in some, the colonization levels for FRE or AMF (or both). We categorized these records by geographic region, host-plant family and environment (agriculture, moderate-natural, low-temperature, high-altitude and other) and determined their influence on the percentage of root length colonized by FRE in a meta-analysis. We found that FRE are globally distributed, with many observations from Poaceae, perhaps due to grasses being widely distributed. In agricultural environments, colonization by FRE often equalled or exceeded that of AMF, particularly in Australasia. In moderate-natural and high-altitude environments, average colonization by FRE (~10%) was lower than that of AMF (~35%), whereas in low-temperature environments, colonization was similar (~20%). Several studies suggested that FRE can enhance host-plant phosphorus uptake and growth, and may be more resilient than AMF to environmental stress in some host plants. Further research is required on the functioning of FRE in relation to the environment, host plant and co-occurring AMF and, in particular, to examine whether FRE are important for plant growth in stressful environments. Targeted molecular primers are urgently needed for further research on FRE.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Fine endophyte Glomus tenue Glomus tenuis Mucoromycotina Rhizophagus tenuis 



This research formed part of a project funded by an Australian Government Postgraduate Award, a Meat and Livestock Australia Postgraduate Scholarship and a Henry Schapper Postgraduate Research Scholarship to SO, and we gratefully acknowledge this funding. MHR was funded by ARC Future Fellowship FT140100103.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, and Institute of AgricultureThe University of Western AustraliaCrawley (Perth)Australia
  2. 2.School of Veterinary & Life SciencesMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia
  3. 3.Bio-Protection Research CentreLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand
  4. 4.UWA School of Biological SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawley (Perth)Australia
  5. 5.Royal Botanic GardenEdinburghUK
  6. 6.Department of Agricultural SciencesLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand

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