Mycorrhizal Symbiosis and Plant Reproduction

  • Roger T. Koide


Reproduction is an essential function of all organisms and, for many crop species, reproductive structures are the principle edible parts. Still, relatively little is known about the effects of the mycorrhizal symbiosis on host plant reproduction. Common limitations to reproduction include nutrient deficiency, herbivory and disease, and mycorrhizal fungi can influence each of these. Several aspects of sexual reproduction may be influenced by colonization of mycorrhizal fungi including the timing of reproductive events, the number of inflorescences per plant, the number of flowers per inflorescence, the amount of pollen per flower, the proportion of flowers producing fruits, and the number of seeds per fruit. Seed quality can also be strongly influenced by colonization of mycorrhizal fungi, resulting in variation in seedling vigor and resultant competitive ability. Because infection by mycorrhizal fungi can influence interactions among plants, it may lead to variation among individuals in their contributions to the next generation and, therefore, may control the genetic structures of populations and communities.


Community structure Density Disease Fecundity Fitness ­Herbivory Offspring quality Pollen Population structure 



The U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the A.W. Mellon Foundation provided funding for research leading to many of the results discussed herein.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Horticulture and Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in EcologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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