Scientists were able to categorize tree species by the type of fungus that colonizes their roots.
Kevin Cope's insight:
This study is very interesting! They are able to map via satellite imaging with 77% accuracy the type (AM vs. ECM) and degree of mycorrhizal associations among stands of forest trees. Find the full paper here:
Its important to consider more than just the interaction of a symbiont and its host. Other biological factors often play a role. This paper points out how earth worms have an additive effect on arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis.
For more than 450 million years, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have formed intimate, mutualistic symbioses with the vast majority of land plants and are major drivers in almost all terrestrial ecosystems. The obligate plant-symbiotic AMF host additional symbionts, so-called Mollicutes-related endobacteria (MRE). To uncover putative functional roles of these widespread but yet enigmatic MRE, we sequenced the genome of DhMRElivingintheAMF Dentiscutata heterogama. Multilocus phylogenetic analyses showed that MRE form a previously unidentified lineage sister to the hominis group of Mycoplasma species. DhMRE possesses a strongly reduced metabolic capacity with 55% of the proteins having unknown function, which reflects unique adaptations to an intracellular lifestyle. We found evidence for transkingdom gene transfer between MRE and their AMF host. At least 27 annotated DhMRE proteins show similarities to nuclear-encoded proteins of the AMF Rhizophagus irregularis, which itself lacks MRE. Nuclear-encoded homologs could moreover be identified for another AMF, Gigaspora margarita, and surprisingly, also the non-AMF Mortierella verticillata. Our data indicate a possible origin of the MRE-fungus association in ancestors of the Glomeromycota and Mucoromycotina.TheDhMRE genome encodes an arsenal of putative regulatory proteins with eukaryotic-like domains, some of them encoded in putative genomic islands. MRE are highly interesting candidates to study the evolution and interactions between an ancient, obligate endosymbiotic prokaryote with its obligate plantsymbiotic fungal host. Our data moreover may be used for further targeted searches for ancient effector-like proteins that may be key components in the regulation of the arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis.
Kevin Cope's insight:
This article tells an interesting story about a mollicute-related endobacteria that associates with an AM fungal species. By sequencing its genome, some interesting characterisitics are identified and new hypotheses formed about the origin of the association.
The ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology is the official Journal of the International Society for Microbial Ecology, publishing high-quality, original research papers, short communications, commentary articles and reviews in the rapidly expanding and diverse discipline of microbial ecology.
Francis Martin and colleagues report genome sequences for 18 species of mycorrhizal fungi and a phylogenomic analysis including 32 other fungal genomes. The study identifies cell wall-degradation genes lost in all true ectomycorrhizal species and, using gene expression data, finds candidate genes for the establishment of symbiosis.
The amounts of carbon allocated to the fungal partner in ectomycorrhizal associations can vary substantially depending on the plant growth and the soil nutrient conditions, and the fungus may frequently be confronted with limitations in carbon. We used chemical analysis and transcriptome profiling to examine the physiological response of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Paxillus involutus to carbon starvation during axenic cultivation. Carbon starvation induced a decrease in the biomass. Concomitantly, ammonium, cell wall material (chitin) and proteolytic enzymes were released into the medium, which suggest autolysis. Compared with the transcriptome of actively growing hyphae, about 45% of the transcripts analyzed were differentially regulated during C-starvation. Induced during starvation were transcripts encoding extracellular enzymes such as peptidases, chitinases and laccases. In parallel, transcripts of N-transporters were upregulated, which suggest that some of the released nitrogen compounds were re-assimilated by the mycelium. The observed changes suggest that the carbon starvation response in P. involutus is associated with complex cellular changes that involves autolysis, recycling of intracellular compounds by autophagy and reabsorption of the extracellular released material. The study provides molecular markers that can be used to examine the role of autolysis for the turnover and survival of the ectomycorrhizal mycelium in soils.
Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbioses are among the most widespread associations between roots of woody plants and soil fungi in forest ecosystems. These associations contribute significantly to the sustainability and sustainagility of these ecosystems through nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. Unfortunately, the molecular mechanisms controlling the mutual recognition between both partners are still poorly understood. Elegant work has demonstrated that effector proteins from ECM and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi regulate host defenses by manipulating plant hormonal pathways. In parallel, genetic and evolutionary studies in legumes showed that a ‘common symbiosis pathway’ is required for the establishment of the ancient AM symbiosis and has been recruited for the rhizobia–legume association. Given that genes of this pathway are present in many angiosperm trees that develop ectomycorrhizas, we propose their potential involvement in some but not all ECM associations. The maintenance of a successful long-term relationship seems strongly regulated by resource allocation between symbiotic partners, suggesting that nutrients themselves may serve as signals. This review summarizes our current knowledge on the early and late signal exchanges between woody plants and ECM fungi, and we suggest future directions for decoding the molecular basis of the underground dance between trees and their favorite fungal partners.
This paper reviews how trees, especially the "mother", can dramatically although non-genetically affect the phenotype of their offspring, including susceptibility to disease and tolerance of adverse abiotic factors.
This paper proposes some very intriguing and exciting hypotheses about how different plant species could select for specific nuclei within heterokaryotic AM fungi. I look forward to any experimental follow-up on these hypotheses!
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