New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Videos
  • Comments/Replies

Revolt of the Fungus People

Mycorrhizae in the Ecosystem



Author:

Clyde Freeman Herreid
Department of Biological Sciences
University at Buffalo
herreid@buffalo.edu

Abstract:

This interrupted case study for the flipped classroom examines the interaction of plants and their mycorrhizal partners. The latter is one of the most widespread and vital symbiotic relationships in the world and can be seen in the videos that students should view before discussing the material in class. Thousands of different species are involved, some obligate and others facultative. The case examines the recent studies identifying the spectacular and wide array of intraspecific and interspecific chemical communication among organisms, giving us a glimpse of the enormously complex interactions in an ecological community. The case can easily be used as a springboard for discussion about the social and political issues that might arise when humans disrupt these ecosystems. The case was developed for college general biology but can easily be used in environmental science, ecology or evolution classes. In fact, several of the questions raised address issues that are most appropriate for advanced students. What is essential is that the students have a general knowledge of fungal anatomy and mycorrhizae before starting the activity.

Objectives:
  • Describe how mycorrhizae function to enhance the transport of nutrients throughout the plant community.
  • Describe the airborne communication between individuals of the same species of plants and some of the ecological and evolutionary consequences.
  • Describe the importance of airborne vapors in attracting herbivore consumers and predators/parasitoids.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking skills in evaluating data and graphs.
  • Consider and discuss how these symbiotic relationships among plants could have evolved.
  • Consider and discuss the possible ramifications of soil ecosystem disruption and how we might restore land productivity.
  • Consider and discuss what role coevolution could have played in the community of plants and mycorrhizae.
Keywords: mycorrhizae; plant communication; symbiosis; fungus; soil ecosystem; coevolution; network; warning signal; underground signals
Topical Area: Policy issues, Regulatory issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Flipped, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Ecology   Agriculture   Evolutionary Biology   Botany / Plant Science  
Date Posted: 3/26/2018
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes


Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key


Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.


  Get Answer Key

Videos

The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  Cytoplasmic Streaming in Fungal Hyphae
This video shows how particles move in both directions in the thin hyphal cells of fungi. Running time: 0:46 min. Produced by Bernard Jenni, 2013.

  Mycorrhizae I—Mycorrhizae and Environment
This video covers the early evolution on Earth showing coevolution of plants and mycorrhizae. It begins the description of how the two symbionts form an interdependent network. Running time: 4:33 min. Produced by UFZ, 2014.

  Mycorrhiza II—What Is It and How Does It Work?
This video considers how fungi and plants recognize one another, how they each contribute to the partnership, and the different types of mycorrhizae, some living inside of cells and others on the surface and between cells. Running time: 10:06 min. Produced by UFZ, 2014.

  Mycorrhizal Applications 101
This video overview covers how farmers make use of mycorrhizae to increase crop yields. Running time: 20:00 min. Produced by ReturnProject, 2014.




Name:
Email:
Department:
Institution:
City State:
Comments:
security code
Enter Security Code: