Host identity influences nuclear dynamics in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

V. Kokkoris, P.-L. Chagnon, G. Yildirir, K. Clarke, D. Goh, A.M. MacLean, J. Dettman, F. Stefani, N. Corradi

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© 2021 Elsevier Inc.The arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are involved in one of the most ecologically important symbioses on the planet, occurring within the roots of most land plants.1 Knowledge of even basic elements of AM fungal biology is still poor, with the discovery that AMF may in fact have a sexual life cycle being only very recently reported.2–5 AMF produce asexual spores that contain up to several thousand individual haploid nuclei6 of either largely uniform genotypes (AMF homokaryons) or nuclei originating from two parental genotypes2–5 (AMF dikaryons or heterokaryons). In contrast to the sexual dikaryons in the phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota,7,8 in which pairs of nuclei coexist in single hyphal compartments, AMF dikaryons carry several thousand nuclei in a coenocytic mycelium. Here, we set out to better understand the dynamics of this unique multinucleate condition by combining molecular analyses with advanced microscopy and modeling. Herein, we report that select AMF dikaryotic strains carry the distinct nucleotypes in equal proportions to one another, whereas others show an unequal distribution of parental nucleotypes. In both cases, the relative proportions within a given strain are inherently stable. Simulation models suggest that AMF dikaryons may be maintained through nuclear cooperation dynamics. Remarkably, we report that these nuclear ratios shift dramatically in response to plant host identity, revealing a previously unknown layer of genetic complexity and dynamism within the intimate interactions that occur between the partners of a prominent terrestrial symbiosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1538.e6
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


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