Articles

Fiber, Food, Fuel, and Fungal Symbionts

Science  26 Oct 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4417, pp. 419-422
DOI: 10.1126/science.206.4417.419

Abstract

Virtually all plants of economic importance form mycorrhizae. These absorbing organs of higher plants result from a symbiotic union of beneficial soil fungi and feeder roots. In forestry, the manipulation of fungal symbionts ecologically adapted to the planting site can increase survival and growth of forest trees, particularly on adverse sites. Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae, which occur not only on many trees but also on most cultivated crops, are undoubtedly more important to world food crops. Imperatives for mycorrhizal research in forestry and agriculture are (i) the development of mass inoculum of mycorrhizal fungi, (ii) the interdisciplinary coordination with soil management, plant breeding, cultivation practices, and pest control to ensure maximum survival and development of fungal symbionts in the soil, and (iii) the institution of nursery and field tests to determine the circumstances in which mycorrhizae benefit plant growth in forestry and agri-ecosystems.

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