Part II

Interactions of Fungi with Other Organisms

Chapter 3

Fungi as Symbiotic Partners

Two organisms don't enter into symbiosis to give something to the partner, but in order to take as much advantage of the partner as possible.

A. Quispel

Some fungi live in symbiotic association with cells of higher plants and algae. The mycorrhizal and the lichen-forming fungi are two examples of mutualism. The main physiological basis for this mutualism is bi-directional nutrient transfer. The photosynthetic partner supplies the fungus with sugars and the fungus enhances the ability of the photo-synthetic partner to scavenge scarce and immobile nutrients, particularly of phosphorus. Another benefit is the ability of symbiotic partners to tolerate environmental stress and inhabit environments that they could not individually. For example, in Lassen Volcanic and Yellowstone National Parks, where the annual soil temperature fluctuates from 20° to 50°C, plants are colonized by an endophytic fungus Curvularia sp. (Redman et al., 2002). Whereas the plants of Dichanthelium lanuginosum grown from surface-sterilized seeds in sterile soil that was inoculated with Curvularia sp. survived constant soil temperature of 50°C, the non-symbiotic plants died. Re-isolation of the fungus demonstrated that thermal protection is also provided to the fungus.

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