Resource stoichiometry elucidates the structure and function of arbuscular mycorrhizas across scales

Nancy Collins Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

685 Scopus citations


Contents Summary Despite the fact that arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations are among the most ancient, abundant and important symbioses in terrestrial ecosystems, there are currently few unifying theories that can be used to help understand the factors that control their structure and function. This review explores how a stoichiometric perspective facilitates integration of three complementary ecological and evolutionary models of mycorrhizal structure and function. AM symbiotic function should be governed by the relative availability of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus (trade balance model) and allocation to plant and fungal structures should depend on the availabilities of these resources (functional equilibrium model). Moreover, in an evolutionary framework, communities of plants and AM fungi are predicted to adapt to each other and their local soil environment (co-adaptation model). Anthropogenic enrichment of essential resources in the environment is known to impact AM symbioses. A more predictive theory of AM structure and function will help us to better understand how these impacts may influence plant communities and ecosystem properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-647
Number of pages17
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizas
  • Co-adaptation
  • Ecological stoichiometry
  • Functional equilibrium
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Thresholds
  • Trade balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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