The fungal symbionts forming ectomycorrhizas, as well as their associated bacteria, benefit forest trees in a number of ways although the most important is enhancing soil nutrient mobilization and uptake. This is reciprocated by the allocation of carbohydrates by the tree to the fungus through the root interface, making the relationship a mutualistic association. Many field observations suggest that ectomycorrhizal fungi contribute to a number of key ecosystem functions such as carbon cycling, nutrient mobilization from soil organic matter, nutrient mobilization from soil minerals, and linking trees through common mycorrhizal networks. Until now, it has been very difficult to study trees and their fungal associates in forest ecosystems and most of the work on ECM functioning has been done in laboratory or nursery conditions. In this review with discuss the possibility of working at another scale, in forest settings. Numerous new techniques are emerging that makes possible the in situ study of the functional diversity of ectomycorrhizal communities. This approach should help to integrate developing research on the functional ecology of ectomycorrhizas and their associated bacteria with the potential implications of such research for managing the effects of climate change on forests. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Biologiska vetenskaper