Submitted to: Symbiosis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2002
Publication Date: 6/1/2002
Citation: MILLNER, P.D., WRIGHT, S.E. NEW TOOLS TO DETERMINE THE PRESENCE AND ACTIVITY OF ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI. SYMBIOSIS. 2002. 33:101-123. Interpretive Summary: Beneficial fungi that grow on plant roots are a group of fungi called the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). In the past twenty years, research studies indicate that these fungi play important roles in plant and soil health. However, methods to study these organisms have not been satisfactory. Many studies currently are performed only under laboratory conditions because of the difficulty in obtaining meaningful data under field conditions. Within the past five years, new discoveries of a protein produced exclusively by AMF and the application of genetic techniques show promise as tools to acquire needed information on how the organisms function under natural conditions and how they might be manipulated. This paper is a critical review of the usefulness of currently available tools in studies of AMF under natural conditions and identifies areas that need further development. Information in this paper will be used by the growing number of scientists interested in studies on AMF.
Technical Abstract: The diverse, beneficial impacts that arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have on plants and soils in terms of plant nutrient uptake, soil stabilization, and protection of plants roots against soilborne pathogens make these organisms important components of natural and intensively managed landscapes. Their obligate biotrophism limits their propagation in pure culture, but has been a stimulus for development of a series of new molecular tools useful for identification, localization (in roots vs. in soil), and quantification of AM fungal activity in situ. This paper presents a review of the tools available and suggests aspects of future development needed bring the full potential benefit of these tools to bear on the task of evaluating the impact of AM fungal diversity at broad scale ecological levels.