Fungal roles and function in rock, mineral and soil transformations

Geoffrey M. Gadd, Marina Fomina, Euan P. Burford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: The most important perceived environmental roles of fungi are as decomposer organisms, plant pathogens and symbionts (mycorrhizas, lichens), and in the maintenance of soil structure through their filamentous growth habit and production of exopolymers. However, a broader appreciation of fungi as agents of biogeochemical change is lacking and, apart from obvious connections with the carbon cycle, they are frequently neglected within broader microbiological and geochemical research contexts. While the profound geochemical activities of bacteria and archaea receive considerable attention, especially in relation to carbon-limited and/or anaerobic environments (see elsewhere in this volume), in aerobic environments fungi are of great importance, especially when considering rock surfaces, soil and the plant root-soil interface (Gadd, 2005a). For example, mycorrhizal fungi are associated with ∼ 80 % of plant species and are involved in major mineral transformations and redistributions of inorganic nutrients, e.g. essential metals and phosphate, as well as carbon flow. Free-living fungi have major roles in the decomposition of plant and other organic materials, including xenobiotics, as well as mineral solubilization (Gadd, 2004). Lichens (a symbiosis between an alga or cyanobacterium and a fungus) are one of the commonest members of the microbial consortia inhabiting exposed subaerial rock substrates, and play fundamental roles in early stages of rock colonization and mineral soil formation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicro-Organisms and Earth Systems - Advances in Geomicrobiology:
EditorsG. M. Gadd, K.T. Semple, H. M. Lapin-Scott
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherUNESCO/Cambridge University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780511754852
ISBN (Print)0521862221, 9780521862226
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

Publication series

NameSociety for General Microbiology Symposia
PublisherCambridge University press

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Fungal roles and function in rock, mineral and soil transformations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this