The role of nutrient balance in shaping plant root-fungal interactions: facts and speculation

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2019 Jun;49:90-96. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2019.10.004. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Microbiota colonizing plant roots and their vicinity were shown not to be just random associations, but compose, at least to some extent, host-selected microbial consortia. The plant physiological status, especially the nutrient status, prompts changes in plant morphology and metabolism, which successively imposes a selective pressure on microbial communities. It is well established that a low phosphate status of the host plant activates the molecular machinery underlying the development of mutualistic associations in the host root with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). We hypothesize that the plant´s response to changing nutrient stoichiometry affects processes at the root-mycosphere interface which promote or repress also root interactions with microbial taxa other than AMF. As a consequence, fundamental mechanisms underlying these interactions would be shared in AM host and non-host plants. A detailed understanding of the processes involved in maintenance of plant nutrient homeostasis could contribute to novel strategies in tailoring predominantly parasitic or commensalistic plant-microbe interactions towards beneficial associations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Host Microbial Interactions
  • Microbial Consortia*
  • Mycorrhizae / physiology*
  • Nutrients / metabolism*
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / microbiology*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Symbiosis


  • Phosphates