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Ecology. 2009 Aug;90(8):2088-97.

Effects of mycorrhizal fungi on insect herbivores: a meta-analysis.

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School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom.


Mycorrhizal status of the host plant is often ignored in studies on plant-herbivore interactions, but mycorrhizal colonization is known to induce many morphological, physiological, and biochemical changes in host plants, which in turn may alter plant quality as a host for insect herbivores. Both positive and negative effects of mycorrhizal colonization of the host plant on performance and density of insect herbivores have been reported in previous studies. We have conducted a meta-analysis of 34 published and unpublished studies on this topic in order to find out the sources of variation in mycorrhizae effects on insect herbivores. Effects of mycorrhizae on chewing insects depended upon the parameter measured and the degree of herbivore feeding specialization. Density and consumption of chewing insects were higher on mycorrhizal plants, but this did not lead to greater plant damage, presumably because herbivore survival tended to be lower on mycorrhizal plants. Mono- and oligophagous chewers benefited from mycorrhizal colonization of their host plants, whereas performance of polyphagous chewers was reduced on mycorrhizal plants. Among sucking insects, phloem feeders benefited from mycorrhizal infection, but performance of mesophyll feeders was lower on mycorrhizal plants. The type of mycorrhiza was not important for chewing insects, but performance of sucking insects was increased more by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM) than by ectomycorrhizae (ECM). Among AM inoculation studies, the most commonly used fungal species, Glomus intraradices, tended to have a negative effect on chewer performance, whereas all other fungal species tended to have a positive effect. There was no significant difference in results between studies using inoculation and fungicides, field and laboratory studies, and published and unpublished studies. Mycorrhizal status of the host plant thus influences insect herbivore performance, but the magnitude and direction of the effect depend upon the feeding mode and diet breadth of the insect and the identity of fungi.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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