3.4  Mycorrhizal associations

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Around 90% of higher plants are infected by fungi and form mycorrhizal associations. Fungal symbiosis with a plant host is based on the provision of carbon from plant to fungus and inorganic nutrients from fungus to plant. Benefits to the host are considerable. Without mycorrhizal associations many higher plants would be unable to complete their life cycles. Both modern agriculture and natural ecosystems such as forests and grasslands rely strongly on mycorrhizal associations. Competitive advantages which come from efficient nutrient extraction from low-fertility soils have ensured that mycorrhizal symbioses have spread widely. Curiously, though, some genera have no mycorrhizas but have adapted to nutrient-poor sites in other ways (e.g. Lupinus and Banksia).