Form and function of mycorrhizas as well as tracing the presence of the mycorrhizal fungi through the geological time scale are herein first addressed. Then mycorrhizas and plant fitness, succession, mycorrhizas and ecosystem function, and mycorrhizal resiliency are introduced. From this, four
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Form and function of mycorrhizas as well as tracing the presence of the mycorrhizal fungi through the geological time scale are herein first addressed. Then mycorrhizas and plant fitness, succession, mycorrhizas and ecosystem function, and mycorrhizal resiliency are introduced. From this, four hypotheses are drawn: (1) mycorrhizal diversity evolved in response to changes in Global Climate Change (GCC) environmental drivers, (2) mycorrhizal diversity will be modified by present changes in GCC environmental drivers, (3) mycorrhizal changes in response to ecological drivers of GCC will in turn modify plant, community, and ecosystem responses to the same, and (4) Mycorrhizas will continue to evolve in response to present and future changes in GCC factors. The drivers of climate change examined here are: CO2
enrichment, temperature rise, altered precipitation, increased N-deposition, habitat fragmentation, and biotic invasion increase. These impact the soil-rhizosphere, plant and fungal physiology and/or ecosystem(s) directly and indirectly. Direct effects include changes in resource availability and change in distribution of mycorrhizas. Indirect effects include changes in below ground allocation of C to roots and changes in plant species distribution. GCC ecological drivers have been partitioned into four putative time frames: (1) Immediate (1–2 years) impacts, associated with ecosystem fragmentation and habitat loss realized through loss of plant-hosts and disturbance of the soil; (2) Short-term (3–10 year) impacts, resultant of biotic invasions of exotic mycorrhizal fungi, plants and pests, diseases and other abiotic perturbations; (3) Intermediate-term (11–20 year) impacts, of cumulative and additive effects of increased N (and S) deposition, soil acidification and other pollutants; and (4) Long-term (21–50+ year) impacts, where increased temperatures and CO2
will destabilize global rainfall patterns, soil properties and plant ecosystem resilience. Due to dependence on their host for C-supply, orchid mycorrhizas and all heterotrophic mycorrhizal groups will be immediately impacted through loss of habitat and plant-hosts. Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) associations will be the principal group subject to short-term impacts, along with Ericoid mycorrhizas occurring in high altitude or high latitude ecosystems. This is due to susceptibility (low buffer capacity of soils) of many of the ECM systems and that GCC is accentuated at high latitudes and altitudes. Vulnerable mycorrhizal types subject to intermediate-term GCC changes include highly specialized ECM species associated with forest ecosystems and finally arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) associated with grassland ecosystems. Although the soils of grasslands are generally well buffered, the soils of arid lands are highly buffered and will resist even fairly long term GCC impacts, and thus these arid, largely AM systems will be the least affect by GCC. Once there are major perturbations to the global hydrological cycle that change rainfall patterns and seasonal distributions, no aspect of the global mycorrhizal diversity will remain unaffected.