Mycorrhizas and global environmental change: Research at different scales

P.L. Staddon, A. Heinemeyer, A.H. Fitter

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Global environmental change (GEC), in particular rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature, will affect most ecosystems. The varied responses of plants to these aspects of GEC are well documented. As with other key below-ground components of terrestrial ecosystems, the response of the ubiquitous mycorrhizal fungal root symbionts has received limited attention. Most of the research on the effects of GEC on mycorrhizal fungi has been pot-based with a few field (especially monoculture) studies. A major question that arises in all these studies is whether the GEC effects on the mycorrhizal fungi are independent of the effects on their plant hosts. We evaluate the current knowledge on the effects of elevated CO2 and increased temperature on mycorrhizal fungi and focus on the few available field examples. The value of using long-term and large-scale field experiments is emphasised. We conclude that the laboratory evidence to date shows that the effect of elevated CO2 on mycorrhizal fungi is dependent on plant growth and that temperature effects seen in the past might have reflected a similar dependence. Therefore, how temperature directly affects mycorrhizal fungi remains unknown. In natural ecosystems, we predict that GEC effects on mycorrhizal fungal communities will be strongly mediated by the effects on plant communities to the extent that community level interactions will prove to be the key mechanism for determining GEC-induced changes in mycorrhizal fungal communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1-2
    Pages (from-to)253-261
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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