Group I Intron–Mediated Trans-splicing in Mitochondria of Gigaspora rosea and a Robust Phylogenetic Affiliation of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi with Mortierellales | Scientific article about Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi |

Gigaspora rosea is a member of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF; Glomeromycota) and a distant relative of Glomus species that are beneficial to plant growth. To allow for a better understanding of Glomeromycota, we have sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of G. rosea. A comparison with Glomus mitochondrial genomes reveals that Glomeromycota undergo insertion and loss of mitochondrial plasmid-related sequences and exhibit considerable variation in introns. The gene order between the two species is almost completely reshuffled. Furthermore, Gigaspora has fragmented cox1 and rns genes, and an unorthodox initiator tRNA that is tailored to decoding frequent UUG initiation codons. For the fragmented cox1 gene, we provide evidence that its RNA is joined via group I–mediated trans-splicing, whereas rns RNA remains in pieces. According to our model, the two cox1 precursor RNA pieces are brought together by flanking cox1 exon sequences that form a group I intron structure, potentially in conjunction with the nad5 intron 3 sequence. Finally, we present analyses that address the controversial phylogenetic association of Glomeromycota within fungi. According to our results, Glomeromycota are not a separate group of paraphyletic zygomycetes but branch together with Mortierellales, potentially also Harpellales.


Maryam Nadimi, Denis Beaudet, Lise Forget, Mohamed Hijri and B. Franz Lang

Mol Biol Evol (2012)

Via Stefano Ghignone