Skip Navigation

INTRODUCTION TO PLANT AND FUNGAL INTERACTIONS

Photosynthetic organisms (vascular and nonvascular plants, and algae) transform light to biologically available sources of energy. The process enables nearly all other organisms to function, that is photosynthetic organisms determine the activity of the biosphere. Thus it is not surprising that most heterotrophic organisms are linked either directly or indirectly with plants, and that they use the energy fixed during photosynthesis.

Fungi interact with plants in various ways. Some of these interactions cause obvious responses in the host plant. Symbionts such as endophytes and mycorrhizal fungi modify the plants environment to benefit the plant. Pathogens simply exploit the plant. These interactions are complex. Not only does the plant function as a source of energy, but the plant may provide signals that enable symbionts (and pathogens) to recognise a compatible host. The plant also recognises signals supplied by the fungus. Thus the interaction is a series of steps. At each step, the path may be enhanced or blocked. Even in an established colony, the interaction continues. Fungi and plants continue to communicate and respond. This page introduces some of these complex interactions.

This section of the course is broken into the following topics:

Mycorrhizas

Endophytes

Lichens

Plant Pathology

Copyright © University of Sydney. Last updated June, 2004. Site construction and maintenance: eResources Unit. Email us here with your comments and feedback.
Validate XHTML Validate CSS