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Advances in biological conservation through a better understanding of mycorrhizal ecology

The loss of biodiversity and functional diversity due to land conversion, invasive species and local or global pollution has increased our awareness about the importance of biological conservation. Yet, despite the codependency of plants and mycorrhizal fungi, their interactions have largely been overlooked in the context of habitat restoration and conservation. In recent years, many studies have increased our knowledge on the diversity and biogeography of mycorrhizal fungi; they also have enhanced our knowledge on the interactions and dependency between plants and mycorrhizal fungi at the ecosystem level. In this session, the coevolution and specificity of the mycorrhizal symbiosis will be discussed with respect to the conservation of both plants and mycorrhizal fungi. Questions such as: can mycorrhizal symbioses explain rarity (e.g. in orchids) and threatened status? What role do mycorrhizal interactions play in ecosystem disturbances, such as plant invasions? Can mycorrhizal fungi increase the success of restoration and conservation, in or ex-situ? Will be addressed by a group of expert speakers.

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