Re-defining common mycorrhizal and fungal networks

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Matthias C. Rillig, Anika Lehmann, Luisa Lanfranco, Tancredi Caruso, David Johnson


The current use of the term ‘common mycorrhizal network’ (CMN) stipulates a direct link between plants formed by the mycelium of a mycorrhizal fungus. This means that a specific case (involving hyphal continuity) is used to define a much broader phenomenon of hyphae interlinking among plant roots. We here offer a more inclusive definition of the common mycorrhizal network as a network formed by a fungus among plant roots, irrespective of the type of connection or interaction, not limited to direct hyphal linkages. We propose the term ‘common mycorrhizal networks with hyphal continuity’ (CMN-HC) to capture the more specific case, which is important to study for some (notable carbon and nutrient exchange), but not all functions of a common mycorrhizal network. In addition, we introduce the term ‘common fungal network (CFN)’ to include networks of any type of connection formed by any type of fungus; this includes also non-mycorrhizal fungi, and indeed a combination of non-mycorrhizal and mycorrhizal networks. We feel this new set of three hierarchical terms (CMN-HC, CMN and CFN) can usher in a period of research activity unburdened by some of the difficulties (logistics, experimental design challenges) of studying CMN-HC and thus can help attract additional researchers to this fascinating topic of mycorrhizal ecology.



Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences, Plant Sciences


common mycorrhizal network, carbon exchange, hyphae, fungal networks, nutrient transport, common mycorrhizal networks, carbon exchange, fungal networks, nutrient transport


Published: 2023-09-06 05:09

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CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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