The Plant-Growth-Promoting Fungus, Mortierella elongata: Its Biology, Ecological Distribution, and Growth-Promoting Activities
Growth enhancement of loblolly pine (<i>Pinus taeda</i>) in response to inoculation of <i>M. elongata</i> (Isolate PMI93). After inoculation, seedlings of <i>P. taeda</i> were grown in sterile sand or natural soil systems (30% soil collected from <i>P. taeda</i> forest, Durham, NC, mixed with 70% sterile sand [w/w]) for 10 months. Credits: Hui-Ling Liao, UF/IFAS
view on EDIS


Mortierella elongata
plant-growth promoting fungi

How to Cite

Liao, Hui-Ling. 2021. “The Plant-Growth-Promoting Fungus, Mortierella Elongata: Its Biology, Ecological Distribution, and Growth-Promoting Activities”. EDIS 2021 (2).


Recent studies show that Mortierella elongata can perform plant-growth promotion across different types of crops, including bahiagrass, corn, tomato, squash, and watermelon. Compared to the well-known species that have plant-growth-promotion abilities (e.g., mycorrhizal fungi, Trichoderma), growers, agents, and stakeholders are not familiar with "Mortierella" despite the important role these fungal taxa play in promoting the growth of their crops. This new 5-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences provides a brief overview of Mortierella from biological, taxonomical, ecological, and functional perspectives to help readers learn the biology and potential modes of action of this fungus. Written by Hui-Ling Liao.
view on EDIS


Ainsworth, G. C. 2008. Ainsworth & Bisby’s Dictionary of the Fungi. CABI.

Bidartondo, M. I., D. J. Read, and J. M. Trappe. 2011. “The Dawn of Symbiosis between Plants and Fungi.” Biology Letters 7 (4): 574–577.

Bonito, G., K. Hameed, R. Ventura, J. Krishnan, C. W. Schadt, and R. Vilgalys. 2016. “Isolating a Functionally Relevant Guild of Fungi from the Root Microbiome of Populus.” Fungal Ecol. 22:35–42.

Davies, J. L., M. Ngeleka, and G. A. Wobeser. 2010. “Systemic Infection with Mortierella wolfii following Abortion in a Cow.” Can. Vet. J. 51:1391.

Gams, W. 1976. “Some New or Noteworthy Species of Mortierella.” Persoonia-Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi. 9:111–140.

Gams, W., C.-Y. Chien, and K. H. Domsch. 1972. “Zygospore Formation by the Heterothallic Mortierella elongata and a Related Homothallic Species, M. epigama sp.nov.” Trans. Br. Mycol. Soc. 58:5–13, IN1–IN2.

Gray, T. R. G., and P. Baxby. 1968. “Chitin Decomposition in Soil: II. The Ecology of Chitinoclastic Micro-organisms in Forest Soil.” Trans. Br. Mycol. Soc. 51:293–309.

Johnson, J. M., A. Ludwig, A. Furch, A. Mithöfer, S. S. Scholz, M. Reichelt, and R. Oelmüller. 2018. “The Beneficial Root-Colonizing Fungus Mortierella hyalina Promotes the Aerial Growth of Arabidopsis and Activates Calcium-Dependent Responses That Restrict Alternaria brassicae–Induced Disease Development in Roots.” Mol. Plant. Microbe. Interact. 32 (3): 351–363.

Kendrick, A., and C. Ratledge. 1992. “Lipids of Selected Molds Grown for Production of n−3 and n−6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids.” Lipids 27:15–20.

Kikukawa, H., E. Sakuradani, A. Ando, S. Shimizu, and J. Ogawa. 2018. “Arachidonic Acid Production by the Oleaginous Fungus Mortierella alpina 1S-4: A Review.” J. Advert. Res. 11:15–22.

Li, F., L. Chen, M. Redmile-Gordon, J. Zhang, C. Zhang, Q. Ning, and W. Li. 2018. “Mortierella elongata’s Roles in Organic Agriculture and Crop Growth Promotion in a Mineral Soil.” Land Degrad. Dev. 29:1642–1651.

Liao, H.-L., G. Bonito, J. A. Rojas, K. Hameed, S. Wu, C. W. Schadt, J. L. Labbe, G. Tuskan, F. M. Martin, I. V. Grigoriev, and R. Vilgalys. 2019. “Fungal Endophytes of Populus trichocarpa Alter Host Phenotype, Gene Expression and Rhizobiome Composition.” Mol. Plant. Microbe. Interact. 32 (7): 853–864.

Meeuwse, P., P. Akbari, J. Tramper, and A. Rinzema. 2012. “Modeling Growth, Lipid Accumulation and Lipid Turnover in Submerged Batch Cultures of Umbelopsis isabellina.” Bioprocess Biosyst. Eng. 35:591–603.

Niu, Y., L. D. Bainard, W. E. May, Z. Hossain, C. Hamel, and Y. Gan. 2018. “Intensified Pulse Rotations Buildup Pea Rhizosphere Pathogens in Cereal and Pulse Based Cropping Systems.” Front. Microbiol. 9:1909.

Ohshima, S., Y. Sato, R. Fujimura, Y. Takashima, M. Hamada, T. Nishizawa, K. Narisawa, and H. Ohta. 2016. “Mycoavidus cysteinexigens gen. nov., sp. nov., an Endohyphal Bacterium Isolated from a Soil Isolate of the Fungus Mortierella elongata.” Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 66:2052–2057.

Robinson, C. H. 2001. “Cold Adaptation in Arctic and Antarctic Fungi.” New Phytol. 151:341–353.

Sato, Y., K. Narisawa, K. Tsuruta, M. Umezu, T. Nishizawa, K. Tanaka, K. Yamaguchi, M. Komatsuzaki, and H. Ohta. 2010. “Detection of Betaproteobacteria inside the Mycelium of the Fungus Mortierella elongata.” Microbes Environ. 25:321–324.

Spatafora, J. W., Y. Chang, G. L. Benny, K. Lazarus, M. E. Smith, M. L. Berbee, G. Bonito, N. Corradi, I. Grigoriev, A. Gryganskyi, T. Y. James, K. O’Donnell, T. N. Taylor, J. Uehling, R. Vilgalys, M. White, and J. E. Stajich. 2016. “Zygomycete Genealogy of Life (ZyGoLife): A Phylum-Level Phylogenetic Classification of Zygomycete Fungi Based on Genome-Scale Data.” Mycologia 108 (5): 1028–1046.

Uehling, J., A. Gryganskyi, K. Hameed, T. Tschaplinski, P. K. Misztal, S. Wu, A. Desirò, N. Vande Pol, Z. Du, A. Zienkiewicz, K. Zienkiewicz, E. Morin, E. Tisserant, R. Splivallo, M. Hainaut, B. Henrissat, R. Ohm, A. Kuo, J. Yan, A. Lipzen, M. Nolan, K. LaButti, K. Barry, A. H. Goldstein, J. Labbé, C. Schadt, G. Tuskan, I. Grigoriev, F. Martin, R. Vilgalys, and G. Bonito. 2017. “Comparative Genomics of Mortierella elongata and Its Bacterial Endosymbiont Mycoavidus cysteinexigens.” Environ. Microbiol. 19:2964–2983.

Vadivelan, G., and G. Venkateswaran. 2014. “Production and Enhancement of Omega-3 Fatty Acid from Mortierella alpina CFR-GV15: Its Food and Therapeutic Application.” Biomed Res. Int. 2014:657414.

Wani, Z. A., A. Kumar, P. Sultan, K. Bindu, S. Riyaz-Ul-Hassan, and N. Ashraf. 2017. “Mortierella alpina CS10E4, an Oleaginous Fungal Endophyte of Crocus sativus L. Enhances Apocarotenoid Biosynthesis and Stress Tolerance in the Host Plant.” Sci. Rep. 7:8598.

Weinstein, R. N., P. O. Montiel, and K. Johnstone. 2000. “Influence of Growth Temperature on Lipid and Soluble Carbohydrate Synthesis by Fungi Isolated from Fellfield Soil in the Maritime Antarctic.” Mycologia 92:222–229.

Zhang, K., G. Bonito, C.-M. Hsu, K. Hameed, R. Vilgalys, and H.-L. Liao. 2020. “Mortierella elongata Increases Plant Biomass among Non-leguminous Crop Species.” Agronomy 10 (5): 754.

Copyright (c) 2021 UF/IFAS