Ericoid mycorrhiza: A partnership that exploits harsh edaphic conditions

J. W G Cairney*, A. A. Meharg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Plants that form ericoid mycorrhizal associations are widespread in harsh habitats. Ericoid mycorrhizal fungal endophytes are a genetically diverse group, and they appear to be able to alleviate certain environmental stresses and so facilitate the establishment and survival of Ericaceae. Some of the fungal taxa that form ericoid mycorrhizas, or at least closely related strains, also form associations with other plant hosts (trees and leafy liverworts). The functional significance of these associations and putative mycelial links between Ericaceae and other plant taxa, however, remain unclear. Evidence from environments that are contaminated by toxic metals indicates that ericoid mycorrhizal fungal endophytes, and in some instances their plant hosts, can evolve resistance to these metals. The apparent ability of these endophytes to develop resistance enables ericoid mycorrhizal plants to colonize polluted soil. This seems to be a major factor in the success of ericoid mycorrhizal taxa in a range of harsh environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-740
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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