• Indonesia;
  • Malaysia;
  • mycorrhizae;
  • plant–fungus interactions;
  • pteridophytes;
  • tropics


The colonisation of land by plants may not have been possible without mycorrhizae, which supply the majority of land plants with nutrients, water and other benefits. In this sense, the mycorrhization of basal groups of land plants such as ferns and lycophytes is of particular interest, yet only about 9% of fern and lycophyte species have been sampled for their mycorrhization status, and no community-level analyses exist for tropical fern communities. In the present study, we screened 170 specimens of ferns and lycophytes from Malaysia and Sulawesi (Indonesia), representing 126 species, and report the mycorrhization status for 109 species and 19 genera for the first time. Mycorrhizal colonisations were detected in 96 (56.5%) of the specimens, 85 of which corresponded to arbuscular mycorrhizae (AMF), three to dark-septate endophytes (DSE) and four to mixed colonisations (AMF + DSE). DSE colonisations were lower than in comparable samples of ferns from the Andes, suggesting a geographical or taxonomic pattern in this type of colonisation. Epiphytes had significantly lower levels of colonisation (26.1%) than terrestrial plants (70.7%), probably due to the difficulty of establishment of mycorrhizal fungi in the canopy habitat.