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Trends Ecol Evol. 1996 Dec;11(12):503-7.

Interactions between mammals and ectomycorrhizal fungi.

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  • 1Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management, Dept of Zoology and Tropical Ecology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia.


Many ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi produce fruit-bodies below ground and rely on animals, especially mammals, for dispersal of spores. Mammals may therefore play an important role in the maintenance of mycorrhizal symbiosis and biodiversity of ECM fungi in many forest ecosystems. Given the pivotal role played by mycorrhizal fungi In the nutrition of their plant hosts and, possibly, in the determination of plant community structure, the ecological significance of mycophagous mammals may extend to the productivity and diversity of plant communities. Mycologists and mammalogists have been aware of the interaction between their study organisms for many years, but recent research has produced new insights Into the evolution of mammal-vectored spore dispersal among ECM fungi, the ecological importance of mycophagy to small mammals, and the effectiveness of mammals as spore-dispersal agents.

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