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Using molecular biology to study mycorrhizal fungal community ecology: Limits and perspectives

Chagnon, P.-L., Bainard, L.D. 2015. Using molecular biology to study mycorrhizal fungal community ecology: Limits and perspectives. Plant Signaling and Behaviour 10(7), e1046668.

Abstract

Molecular tools have progressively replaced morphological approaches to characterize microbial communities in nature. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are no exception to this rule. Yet, one challenge posed by these symbionts is that they colonize simultaneously both plant roots and soil, which complicates their detection and quantification. In most studies conducted to date, AM fungal communities have been characterized from roots only, soil only or spores only. Here, we discuss the pitfalls associated to drawing ecological inferences using such datasets. We also conclude by arguing that molecular biology will contribute most to advance knowledge in AM fungal ecology if it is integrated into broader perspectives taking into account the natural history of these organisms. This calls for a better merging of molecular and morphological approaches, and the establishment of intensive, long-term research programs.

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