Abstract The present study was undertaken to investigate whether the behaviour in vitro of Lunularia cruciata grown with Glomus intraradices and G. proliferum, on SRV medium with 29.2 m m sucrose satisfies the requirements of Koch' postulates for mutualistic symbiosis. Hyphae emerging from mycothallus were able to grow over a two-compartment Petri dish barrier and capture and translocate phosphorus into the host liverwort. Thus, there were increases in plant dry weight, higher AM fungi spore production, and higher plant total phosphorus content. Moreover, this colonization of L. cruciata reproduces typical symptoms generally associated with mycorrhizae. These results showed that mycothalli of L. cruciata have available functionalities generally associated with mycorrhizal symbiosis in higher plants; however, the energy/photosynthetic carbon requirements to maintain a mutualistic symbiosis may be a limiting factor in vivo. Features here discussed indicate that, at least in tested experimental conditions, the endophytic association of L. cruciata with both G. intraradices and G. proliferum is a parasitic/opportunistic partnership rather than a mutualistic symbiosis.