Functional consequences of nutrient translocation in mycelial fungi

Graeme P. Boswell (Lead / Corresponding author), Helen Jacobs, Fordyce A. Davidson, Geoffrey M. Gadd, Karl Ritz

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    93 Citations (Scopus)


    Fungi are of fundamental importance for plant and microbial nutrition with primary roles in decomposition and nutrient recycling. They also have great potential for use in areas of biotechnology such as bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants and biocontrol of plant pathogens. In all these contexts, environmental heterogeneity has a strong influence on growth and function. A large class of fungi overcome the difficulties encountered in such environments by the mechanism of translocation which results in the internal redistribution of nutrients within the fungal mycelium. In this paper, we use a combination of experimental techniques and mathematical modelling to examine fungal growth in general, and in particular, translocation in the common soil saprophytic fungus Rhizoctonia solani. A detailed mathematical model is presented where translocation is considered to have both diffusive and metabolically-driven components. A calibration experiment provided the necessary parameter values. Growth experiments were compared with model solutions and thus we provide strong evidence that diffusion is the dominant mechanism for translocation in homogeneous environments. In heterogeneous environments, we conclude that diffusion is still vital for exploration, i.e. the expansion of the fungal network into the surrounding area. However, we also conclude that localized resources may be utilized faster if energy is invested, i.e. when exploitation of the fungal microenvironment is enhanced by metabolically driven translocation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)459-477
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2002

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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