Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Bot. 2009 Dec;104(7):1255-61. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcp235. Epub 2009 Sep 18.

Myco-heterotrophy: when fungi host plants.

Author information

  • 1Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.



Myco-heterotrophic plants are partly or entirely non-photosynthetic plants that obtain energy and nutrients from fungi. These plants form a symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal or saprotrophic fungi to meet their nutrient demands.


This Botanical Briefing summarizes current knowledge about myco-heterotrophy, discusses its controversial aspects and highlights future directions for research.


Considerable recent progress has been made in terms of understanding the evolutionary history, germination and nutrition of myco-heterotrophic plants. Myco-heterotrophic plants: (1) are diverse and often ancient lineages that have coevolved with fungi, (2) often demonstrate unusually high specificity towards fungi during germination and maturity, and (3) can either cheat common mycorrhizal networks supported by neighbouring photosynthetic plants to satisfy all or part of their energetic and nutritional needs, or recruit free-living saprotrophic fungi into novel mycorrhizal symbioses. However, several fundamental aspects of myco-heterotrophy remain controversial or unknown, such as symbiotic costs and physiology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk