Introduction to the biology of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are soilborne fungi that generally form a mutualistic symbiosis with the majority of crop plants. However, one agronomically important crop family that does not form arbuscular mycorrhizas is the Brassicaceae. Among the benefits to the plant host ascribed to the symbiosis are enhanced mineral nutrient uptake, water relations, and disease resistance. The fungus benefits from the recipient of fixed carbon through the roots of the host plant (Shachar-Hill et al., 1995). A brief discussion of the life cycle and function of AM fungi will help understand and predict both the impacts of farm management practices on AM fungi and the role of AM fungi in the success or failure of certain agronomic practices.

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