, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 305–316 | Cite as

Global Distributions of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi

  • Kathleen K. TresederEmail author
  • Alison Cross


We examined potential large-scale controls over the distribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and their host plants. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that AM fungi should be more prevalent in biomes where nutrients are primarily present in mineral, and not organic, forms. Values of percentage root length colonized (%RLC) by AM fungi, AM abundance, and host plant availability were compiled or calculated from published studies to determine biome-level means. Altogether, 151 geographic locations and nine biomes were represented. Percent RLC differed marginally significantly among biomes and was greatest in savannas. AM abundance (defined as total standing root length colonized by AM fungi) varied 63-fold, with lowest values in boreal forests and highest values in temperate grasslands. Biomes did not differ significantly in the percentage of plant species that host AM fungi, averaging 75%. Contrary to the hypothesis, %RLC, AM abundance, and host plant availability were not related to the size, influx, or turnover rate of soil organic matter pools. Instead, AM abundance was positively correlated with standing stocks of fine roots. The global pool of AM biomass within roots might approach 1.4 Pg dry weight. We note that regions harboring the largest stocks of AM fungi are also particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic nitrogen deposition, which could potentially alter global distributions of AM fungi in the near future.


arbscular mycorrhizal fungi belowground net primary productivity fungal biomass biome colonization fine root length root C:N ratio soil organic matter survey 



We are grateful to L. Marzec, D. Thalp, and A. Reynolds for technical support, and to those investigators whose studies are included in the dataset. This work was funded by grants from the Mellon Foundation, NSF Ecosystems (DEB 010776, DEB 0122445) and the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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