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Genetics: Symbiosis

Textbooks tell us that, in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses, the host plant supplies its fungal symbionts solely with sugars, in return for inorganic nutrients. New findings now show that lipids are also on the menu.


Excerpt from LMU press release of July 25, 2017:

Butter for my honey

More than 80% of all land plants live in so-called arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses with fungi that colonize their root systems. The fungi take up inorganic nutrients from the soil – mainly phosphate and nitrogen – and pass them on to the plant. According to the prevailing view, the host provides its benefactors with energy-rich organic compounds – specifically carbohydrates – in return for this service. The research group of Caroline Gutjahr, in collaboration with research groups led by Peter Dörmann (Bonn University), Wolfgang Eisenreich (Technical University of Munich) and her LMU colleague Martin Parniske, has now shown that the plant contributes more than just sugars to the relationship: It also delivers essential lipids to its fungal partner. The new findings appear in the prestigious online journal eLife 2017.

LMU press release