In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mycorrhizal Ecology

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Classification, Taxonomy, and Species Diversity
  • Classic Examination Tools
  • Molecular Detection
  • Cost and Benefit
  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Mycorrhizae and Plant Community Dynamics
  • Mycorrhizae and Ecosystem Functioning
  • Multi-Trophic Interactions
  • Mycorrhizae and Global Change
  • Applications in Managed Ecosystems
  • Plant Invasion and Ecological Restoration

Ecology Mycorrhizal Ecology
Baoming Ji, James D. Bever
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 November 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0014


Mycorrhizae are ubiquitous in terrestrial ecosystems. With an increasing awareness that this symbiotic association plays important roles in plant population dynamics, community structures and ecosystem functioning, mycorrhizal ecology has emerged as a fast growing subdiscipline in the field of ecology. Over recent decades, studies have expanded from descriptions of basic mycorrhizal biology to investigations of their functional relevance in a broader ecological context. Today’s research is dominated by the search for underlying mechanisms and general principles. The readings on issues related to mycorrhizal ecology include basic overviews of mycorrhizal studies, classification and species diversity, methodology in mycorrhizal examination, costs and benefits, population and community ecology of mycorrhizae, their ecological significance in plant community and ecosystem, multitrophic interactions, and practical applications. This bibliography focuses on the most widespread and ecologically important types of mycorrhizae—arbuscular mycorrhizae and ectomycorrhizae.

General Overviews

John Harley was among the first pioneers attempting to synthesize disparate thoughts developed in over the first century of mycorrhizal studies (Harley 1959). During the past few decades, Harley and Smith 1983, Smith and Read 1997, and Smith and Read 2008 have been recognized as standard reference books on mycorrhizae. These books provide the most comprehensive knowledge of all major types of mycorrhizal fungi, including their identity, structure, development, function, and ecological significance. Allen 1991 integrates mycorrhizae into complex ecological concepts. Van der Heijden and Sanders 2002 includes chapters authored by notable mycorrhizal ecologists who summarize the state of knowledge in their specialized fields of mycorrhizal research. Alastair Fitter, who was president of the British Ecological Society, emphasized the important roles belowground organisms play in biodiversity and ecosystem-level processes, using arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as a case study (Fitter 2005). Koide and Mosse 2004 is a recent review describing historical development of research on arbuscular mycorrhizae.

  • Allen, Michael F. 1991. The ecology of mycorrhizae. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    An excellent book that integrates mycorrhizae into complex ecological mechanisms of plant population dynamics, community structures, ecosystems processes, and practical applications.

  • Fitter, Alastair H. 2005. Darkness visible: Reflections on underground ecology. Journal of Ecology 93:231–243.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-0477.2005.00990.x

    Fitter, then president of the British Ecological Society, highlights the importance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus, an exemplary belowground organism, in understanding biodiversity and ecosystem-level processes.

  • Harley, John L. 1959. The biology of mycorrhiza. London: Leonard Hill.

    This book represents one of the first attempts to synthesize disparate thoughts developed in over 100 years of mycorrhizal studies. Its 2nd edition was published in 1969.

  • Harley, John L., and Sally E. Smith. 1983. Mycorrhizal symbiosis. New York: Academic Press.

    The most authoritative and informative book on mycorrhizae published at the time when mycorrhizal association became a fascinating topic. It has been acclaimed as the bible for mycorrhiza researchers, practicing scientists, and students.

  • Koide, Roger T., and Barbara Mosse. 2004. A history of research on arbuscular mycorrhiza. Mycorrhiza 14:145–163.

    DOI: 10.1007/s00572-004-0307-4

    This article provides a unique reflection on the historical development of arbuscular mycorrhizal research. A fascinating article to read for graduate students interested in this field.

  • Smith, Sally E., and David J. Read. 1997. Mycorrhizal symbiosis. 2d ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    This edition was rewritten by Smith and Read to incorporate some of the significant advances made between 1983 and 1997.

  • Smith, Sally E., and David J. Read. 2008. Mycorrhizal symbiosis. 3d ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    This latest edition keeps the same structure as previous editions, with the first three sections describing general biology of main types of mycorrhizae and the fourth focusing on their ecological functioning. Advances in molecular biology are emphasized.

  • van der Heijden, Marcel G. A., and Ian R. Sanders. 2002. Mycorrhizal ecology. Berlin: Springer.

    An overview of recent advances and breakthroughs by most notable mycorrhizal ecologists. Topics include roles of mycorrhizae in plant population biology, multitrophic interactions, biological diversity, ecosystem functioning, global change, and evolution.

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