Skip to main content

Accounting for local adaptation in ectomycorrhizas: a call to track geographical origin of plants, fungi, and soils in experiments


Local adaptation, the differential success of genotypes in their native versus foreign environments, can influence ecological and evolutionary processes, yet its importance is difficult to estimate because it has not been widely studied, particularly in the context of interspecific interactions. Interactions between ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi and their host plants could serve as model system for investigations of local adaptation because they are widespread and affect plant responses to both biotic and abiotic selection pressures. Furthermore, because EM fungi cycle nutrients and mediate energy flow into food webs, their local adaptation may be critical in sustaining ecological function. Despite their ecological importance and an extensive literature on their relationships with plants, the vast majority of experiments on EM symbioses fail to report critical information needed to assess local adaptation: the geographic origin of the plant, fungal inocula, and soil substrate used in the experiment. These omissions limit the utility of such studies and restrict our understanding of EM ecology and evolution. Here, we illustrate the potential importance of local adaptation in EM relationships and call for consistent reporting of the geographic origin of plant, soil, and fungi as an important step towards a better understanding of the ecology and evolution of EM symbioses.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


Download references


This work was supported by start-up funds from the Wright State University to MAR, a NSERC Discovery Grant and Canada Research Chair to PMA, a NSERC Industrial Research Chair to JK and National Science Foundation grants to JDH (award #1119865) and CAG (award #EF-1340852).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Megan A. Rúa.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Electronic supplementary material


(PDF 39 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rúa, M.A., Lamit, L.J., Gehring, C. et al. Accounting for local adaptation in ectomycorrhizas: a call to track geographical origin of plants, fungi, and soils in experiments. Mycorrhiza 28, 187–195 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: