Taxonomic and functional diversity of mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhiza Pinus Pisolithus

Project team leader:
Dr. P.-E. Courty

Project team members:
D. Brulé, S. Calabrese


In mycorrhizal symbiosis, plant roots interact with friendly fungi and form a mixed organ called mycorrhiza where nutrients are exchanged: the plant provides sugar to the fungus and in return the fungus provides nutrients as water, nitrogen and phosphorus to the plant. Mycorrhizal symbiosis play a critical role for plant nutrient use efficiency in natural ecosystems, usually characterised by nutrient limitation, especially regarding nitrogen and phosphate. Substantial evidence has accumulated about how the rational use of fungal symbionts properties should significantly contribute to decreasing fertiliser and pesticide use in agriculture and forestry.

Understanding the mechanisms underlying high nutrient use efficiency by mycorrhizal plants and carbon allocation in a context of mutualistic biotrophic interactions is critical for managing both croplands and forests while taking care of the ecosystem services rendered by microbial symbionts. Availability, uptake and exchange of nutrients in biotrophic interactions drive plant growth and modulate biomass allocation, and these parameters are central to plant yield, a major outcome in the context of high biomass production.