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More than a Carbon Economy: Nutrient Trade and Ecological Sustainability in Facultative Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbioses
F. Andrew Smith, Emily J. Grace and Sally E. Smith
The New Phytologist
Vol. 182, No. 2 (Apr., 2009), pp. 347-358
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30225844
Page Count: 12
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Symbiosis is well recognized as a major force in plant ecology and evolution. However, there is considerable uncertainty about the functional, ecological and evolutionary benefits of the very widespread facultative arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations, in which the plants can grow and reproduce whether or not they are colonized by AM fungi. Here we address the significance of new research findings that are overturning conventional views that facultative AM associations can be likened to parasitic fungus-plant associations. Specifically, we address the occurrence and importance of phosphate uptake via AM fungi that does not result in increases in total phosphorus (P) uptake or in plant growth, and possible signalling between AM fungi and plants that can result in plant growth depressions even when fungal colonization remains very low. We conclude that, depending on the individual AM fungi that are present, the role of facultative AM associations in the field, especially in relation to plant competition, may be much more subtle than has been previously envisaged.
The New Phytologist © 2009 New Phytologist Trust