This chapter discusses various biochemical, genetic, ecological, and evolutionary aspects of fungi that express either symbiotic or saprophytic life-styles. An enormous pool of potential pathogens exists in both agricultural and natural ecosystems, and virtually all plant species are susceptible to one or more fungal pathogens. Fungal pathogens have the potential to impact on the genetic structure of populations of individual plant species, the composition of plant communities and the process of plant succession. Endophytic fungi exist for at least part of their life cycles within the tissues of a plant host. This group of fungi is distinguished from plant pathogens because they do not elicit significant disease symptoms. However, endophytes do maintain the genetic and biochemical mechanisms required for infection and colonization of plant hosts. Fungi that obtain chemical nutrients from dead organic matter are known as saprophytes and are critical to the dynamics and resilience of ecosystems. There are two modes of saprophytic growth: one in which biomolecules that are amenable to transport across cell walls and membranes are directly absorbed, and another in which fungi must actively convert complex biopolymers into subunit forms amenable to transportation into cells. Regardless of life-style, fungi employ similar biochemical mechanisms for the acquisition and conversion of nutrients into complex biomolecules that are necessary for vegetative growth, production and dissemination of progeny, organismal competition, and survival during periods of nutrient deprivation or environmental inclemency.
|Title||Fungal life-styles and ecosystem dynamics: biological aspects of plant pathogens, plant endophytes and saprophytes|
|Authors||R. J. Rodriguez, R. S. Redman|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Advances in Botanical Research|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Fisheries Research Center|