Plant and Soil

, Volume 304, Issue 1–2, pp 315–325 | Cite as

The role of arbuscular mycorrhizas in improving plant zinc nutrition under low soil zinc concentrations: a review

  • Timothy R. Cavagnaro
Regular Article


Many of the world’s soils are zinc (Zn) deficient. Consequently, many crops experience reduced growth, yield and tissue Zn concentrations. Reduced concentrations of Zn in the edible portions of crops have important implications for human Zn nutrition; this is a cause of global concern. Most terrestrial plant species form arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) with a relatively limited number of specialized soil fungi. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can take up nutrients, including Zn, and transfer them to the plant, thereby enhancing plant nutrition. Under high soil Zn concentrations the formation of AM can also ‘protect’ against the accumulation of Zn in plant tissues to high concentrations. Here, a short review focusing on the role of AM in enhancing plant Zn nutrition, principally under low soil Zn concentrations, is presented. Effects of Zn on the colonisation of roots by AMF, direct uptake of Zn by AMF, the role of AM in the Zn nutrition of field grown plants, and emerging aspects of Zn molecular physiology of AM, are explored. Emergent knowledge gaps are identified and discussed in the context of potential future research.


Arbuscular mycorrhizas Colonisation Nutrient uptake Plant nutrition Zinc 



Arbuscular mycorrhizas


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi


cation diffusion facilitators


reduced mycorrhizal colonisation tomato mutant


Zrt-Irt-like proteins



Thank you to my colleagues for many valuable discussions over the years, and apologies to those whose work it was not possible to cite here. Comments and suggestions from the two anonymous reviewers are appreciated, as are those of Professor Yongguan Zhu and Dr Vanessa Carne-Cavagnaro on an earlier version of the manuscript. Thanks also to Ms Leesa Hughes for assistance in retrieving and managing references. This review was in part made possible by a Monash University, School of Biological Sciences, Small Grant, awarded to TRC.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences and Australian Centre for BiodiversityMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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