Common mycorrhizal networks – how common and how important they are?
In the top 10 cm of soil globally, external mycorrhizal mycelium extends over distances that total about half the width of our galaxy in a complex web that interlinks plant roots and soil particles. In this web, common mycelial networks in which hyphae connect plant individuals/species are likely to be important in evolution, fitness of individuals, assembly of communities, and biogeochemical cycles - and there remains much to be discussed and to be discovered. Common mycelial networks can transport carbon-energy, nutrients, and water, and provide a putative pathway for inter-plant communication. Recent studies of common mycorrhizal networks in inter-plant defence signaling, in mycorrhizal communities formed in crops grown with companion or cover crops, and progress in network analyses methods and theoretical networks as applied to mycorrhiza, are making important advances in our understanding of this field. This session invites contributions that address these themes, in talks that showcase important experimental and theoretical developments and insights, followed by a 30-minute roundtable structured discussion of the wider implications and applications of this knowledge to evolutionary biology, ecosystems and agriculture, and the priority research questions that still need to be addressed.