Physiology and Ecophysiology of Mycorrhizae

Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semesters 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

1. Symbioses, mutualistic relations, mycorrhizae. The importance of symbiosis in biology: from the casual relationships to the fixed, obligate interdependence. Review of the history and the present importance of mycorrhiza research.

2. Types of mycorrhizae. The occurrence, anatomical characteristics, and ecophysiological roles of ecto-, endo and ectendomycorrhizae. The species specificity of mycorrhizal partners.

3. Identification of mycorrhizal fungi by molecular taxonomical methods. Introduction to the most important methods, review of their possibilities and limits. Identification from fresh samples or samples fixed by different methods. Comparison of PCR methods, review of results of scientific laboratories, review of successes and failures based on own experimental results.

4. Review of mycorrhizal fungi of Hungarian habitats (wetlands, dry habitats, lawns, forests, cultured areas). Roles of mycorrhizal fungi in succession. Protection of mycorrhizal fungi.

5. Nutrition transport between the mycorrhizal partners. Mycoheterotrophy and epiparasitism. Soil utilisation: importance of fungal enzymes. The role of mycorrhiza in nutrient supply of plants.

6. Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM): spectra of host plants, AM fungi (AMF), their identification by traditional morphological and molecular methods. Methods of quantitative estimation of AMF. Isolation methods of AMF.

7. Arbuscular mycorrhiza: development of mycorrhiza, structural elements and their physiological role: arbuscule, vesicule, coil. The role of AM in the nutrient supply of host plants, uptake of macro- and microelements, the role of soil hyphae. Carbon metabolism, regulation. Nitrogen metabolism. Water uptake, the role of AM in the water regime and drought tolerance of the host plant. Plant stress physiology and AM, increase of abiotic and biotic stress resistance. The physiological basis of the protection against heavy metals. AM as a stress buffer.

8. Molecular basis of the development, function and regulation of arbuscular mycorrhiza (lectins, mycorrhizins, NOD genes, etc.). Special nutrient uptake and delivery mechanisms. The effect of AM on the hormonal balance of the host plant (IAA, gibberellins, cytokinins, ABA, polyamins, etc.), hormonal regulatory mechanisms. The role of AM in the plant developmental processes.

9. Host plant spectrum of ectomycorrhizae (EM); review of EM-fungi and their host specificity. Relation of host specificity with phylogenetic relationships and ecological demands. Identification and quantitative estimation of EM by traditional morphological methods. Isolation of EM, maintenance and propagation of axenic cultures.

10. Morphological characterization of EM, physiological roles of fungal mantle and Hartig-net. Role of the EM in nutrient uptake, N and P metabolism and water transport of plants. Role of the EM in hormone household and stress tolerance (drought, heavy metals, pathogens) of plants. Molecular bases of regulation processes of EM.

11. Growing EM fungi of great value. Appointment, location and cultivation of truffle-wood plantations. Life cycle, biological demands and cultivation characteristics of Tuber melanosporum and T. uncinatum.

12. Orchid mycorrhiza: mycorrhiza formation in nature, taxonomy and specificity of the fungal partners, isolation procedures of symbiotic fungi, utilization of ex situ germinated orchid seeds in isolation.

13. Orchid-mycorrhiza: asymbiotic and symbiotic germination and growing of orchids; nutrient transport; equilibrium of symbiosis. Parasitic features of the fungal partner, acclimatization and outplanting success with symbiotic fungi.

14. Utilization of mycorrhizae and mycorrhizated seedlings in environmental protection, recultivation, phytoremediation, sustainable agriculture and sylviculture and biological control.

  • Brundrett, M.C., Bougher, N., Dell, B., Grove, T. & Malajczuk, N. (1996) Working with Mycorrhizas in Forestry and Agriculture. ACIAR, Australia.

  • Varma A. (ed., 1998): Mycorrhiza Manual. Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg.

  • Caitney, J.W.G.-S.M.Chambers (eds., 1999): Ectomycorrhizal fungi. Key genera in Profile. Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg

  • Varma A. – B. Hock (eds., 1999): Mycorrhiza. Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg.

  • Heijden M.G.A. – I.R. Sanders (eds., 2003): Mycorrhizal Ecology. Ecological Studies 157. Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg

  • Periodical, peer-reviewed journal: Mycorrhiza, ISSN: 0940-6360 (print version), ISSN: 1432-1890 (electronic version), Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg