Ericoid Mycorrhizas in Plant Communities


6. Summary and conclusions

The study of the microbial endophytes of Ericaceae may help us to understand the evolution and distribution of the taxa within the Ericales world-wide. It will also indicate whether the fungal associates moved with their plant hosts or whether new associations with resident strains were formed as the plants spread. This information is also likely to tell us whether the genetic diversity of the fungal associates could help to determine the taxonomic relationships within the host order.

Much needs to be done on the determination of the role ericoid fungi play in the successful establishment of horticulturally important members of the Ericaceae such as species of Rhododendron (see Jansa and Vosètka 2000) and Vaccinium that are difficult to establish in certain environments. The ecological importance of hair roots in certain environments is poorly understood. In the Western Australian Banksia woodlands, for example, their occurrence in the soil profile is often constrained because of excessive competition by the persuasiveness of cluster roots in the Proteaceae (Pate and Watt 2001). Studies by Hutton et al. (1994) for instance showed that the dominant activity of hair roots and endophytes is restricted to the cooler wet months in the highly seasonal mediterranean-type climate of south western Australia. These same mycorrhizas are also unusually sensitive to soil disturbance with long periods elapsing before recolonisation (Hutton et al. 1997).

Finally, while horticulturally important Ericaceae are often translocated, little attention is paid to concurrently including the mycorrhizal partner in the translocation or conservation process (especially with rare and endangered taxa) as has been done with members of the Orchidaceae (Batty et al. 200la). The importance of the ericoid association for the long term sustainable management and recovery of rare or threatened Ericaceae remains an important issue for conservation practitioners.


Hair Root Gaultheria Shallon Fungal Endophyte Plant Conservation Mycological Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kings Park & Botanic GardenBotanic Gardens & Parks AuthorityWest Perth
  2. 2.Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawley
  3. 3.Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawley
  4. 4.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesThe University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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