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Free Content Symbiosis and the Biodiversity of Natural Ecosystems

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Symbiosis is common among many plants, animals and microorganisms. Symbioses between plants and fungi are particularly widespread and the relationship between the symbionts can span the range between mutualism and parasitism. These symbioses have the potential to influence major ecological processes and also be an important determinant of plant diversity in ecosystems, either by altering the species composition of plant communities or by changing the genetic structure of plant populations. In this manner, symbiotic fungi could influence the way that their plant hosts evolve. Global environmental changes such as elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide or habitat fragmentation could alter the balance between symbiotic fungi and their partners and consequently alter the diversity or structure of natural plant communities and populations. A deeper insight into the functional diversity of fungal symbionts is also important if they are to be considered in future sustainable agriculture practices.

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Keywords: BIODIVERSITY; GLOBAL CHANGE; HABITAT FRAGMENTATION; MYCORRHIZA; PATHOGENIC AND MUTUALISTIC FUNGI; SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE; SYMBIOSIS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1995

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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