Mechanisms that promote bacterial fitness in fungal-affected soil microhabitats

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2010 Feb;71(2):169-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2009.00807.x. Epub 2009 Nov 27.


Soil represents a very heterogeneous environment for its microbiota. Among the soil inhabitants, bacteria and fungi are important organisms as they are involved in key biogeochemical cycling processes. A main energy source driving the system is formed by plants through the provision of plant-fixed (reduced) carbon to the soil, whereas soil nitrogen and phosphorus may move from the soil back to the plant. The carbonaceous compounds released form the key energy and nutrient sources for the soil microbiota. In the grossly carbon-limited soil, the emergence of plant roots and the formation of their associated mycorrhizae thus create nutritional hot spots for soil-dwelling bacteria. As there is natural (fitness) selection on bacteria in the soil, those bacteria that are best able to benefit from the hot spots have probably been selected. The purpose of this review is to examine the interactions of bacteria with soil fungi in these hot spots and to highlight the key mechanisms involved in the selection of fungal-responsive bacteria. Salient bacterial mechanisms that are involved in these interactions have emerged from this examination. Thus, the efficient acquisition for specific released nutrients, the presence of type-III secretion systems and the capacity of flagellar movement and to form a biofilm are pinpointed as key aspects of bacterial life in the mycosphere. The possible involvement of functions present on plasmid-borne genes is also interrogated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Microbial Interactions
  • Mycorrhizae / growth & development*
  • Mycorrhizae / metabolism
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Soil Microbiology*


  • Carbon