Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, ecosystem processes and environmental changes in tropical soils

Geofrey Soka, Mark Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are more widely distributed and associate with a wide range of plant species. AMF are keystone organisms that form an interface between soils and plant roots, and are sensitive to changes in soil and plant conditions. They are important microbial symbioses for plants and under conditions of P-limitation and are significant in the maintenance of soil health and fertility. AMF are crucial for the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems and plants form symbiotic interactions with AMF and colonize more than 80% of plant roots. Mycorrhizal fungi are known to influence plant diversity patterns in a variety of ecosystems globally. AMF hyphae form an extensive network in soil and length is a common parameter used to quantifying fungal hyphae. The mycelial network of AM fungi extends into the soil volume and greatly increases the surface area for uptake of immobile nutrients. Also, AM symbioses improve drought tolerance of plants and enhance tolerance of or resistance to root pathogens. Furthermore, networks of AM hyphae play a role in the formation of stable soil aggregates, building up a macroporous structure of soil that allows penetration of water and air and prevents erosion. The functioning of AMF symbiosis is mediated by direct and indirect effects of biotic and abiotic factors of the surrounding rhizosphere, community, and ecosystem. They have great potential in the restoration of disturbed land and low fertility soil. Little is known about the effects of environmental changes on AMF abundance, activity and the impact on ecosystem services. Also, we still have much to learn regarding the extent of mycorrhizal fungal diversity. It is critical to gain a clearer understanding of functional variation among AM fungal species to guide conservation and restoration efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-245
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Ecology and Environmental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Arbuscular
  • Hyphae
  • Mycelium
  • Mycorrhizal
  • Soil
  • Symbiosis
  • Terrestrial ecosystem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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