Methods for studying the carbon metabolism of mycorrhizal fungi in pure culture and of entire mycorrhiza are discussed. It is shown that some problems may be investigated by means of methods already developed. Among these are enzymatic studies of hexose catabolism in the arbuscular fungi including the possibly important role of dark C02 fixation providing anaplerotic pathways to Krebs cycle intermediates, as well as 14C studies of below-ground carbon allocation, carbon incorporation by the external hyphae and interplant carbon flow mediated by connecting hyphal networks. There is an obvious need for comparative work using well-defined species of both plants and fungi. Other important areas are methodologically less well developed. These include studies of mechanisms involved in the host-fungus carbon transfer and direct measurements of host-fungus carbon flow. Approaches already developed for the study of other symbiotic associations may be an important source of new experimental initiatives in mycorrhizal research.
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