The genome of Geosiphon pyriformis reveals ancestral traits linked to the emergence of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis

Malar C., Krüger M., Krüger C., Wang Y., Stajich JE., Jean Keller J., Chen ECH., Yildirir G., Villeneuve-Laroche M., Roux C., Delaux PM., Corradi N.
CURRENT BIOLOGY 31: 1-8, 2021

Keywords: Geosiphon pyriformis, arbuscular mycorrhiza, genome
Abstract: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) (subphylum Glomeromycotina) are among the most prominent symbionts and form the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal symbiosis (AMS) with over 70% of known land plants. AMS allows plants to efficiently acquire poorly soluble soil nutrients and AMF to receive photosynthetically fixed carbohydrates. This plant-fungus symbiosis dates back more than 400 million years and is thought to be one of the key innovations that allowed the colonization of lands by plants. Genomic and genetic analyses of diverse plant species started to reveal the molecular mechanisms that allowed the evolution of this symbiosis on the host side, but how and when AMS abilities emerged in AMF remain elusive. Comparative phylogenomics could be used to understand the evolution of AMS. However, the availability of genome data covering basal AMF phylogenetic nodes (Archaeosporales, Paraglomerales) is presently based on fragmentary protein coding datasets. Geosiphon pyriformis (Archaeosporales) is the only fungus known to produce endosymbiosis with nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria (Nostoc punctiforme) presumably representing the ancestral AMF state. Unlike other AMF, it forms long fungal cells (‘‘bladders’’) that enclose cyanobacteria. Once in the bladder, the cyanobacteria are photosynthetically active and fix nitrogen, receiving inorganic nutrients and water from the fungus. Arguably, G. pyriformis represents an ideal candidate to investigate the origin of AMS and the emergence of a unique endosymbiosis. Here, we aimed to advance knowledge in these questions by sequencing the genome of G. pyriformis, using a re-discovered isolate.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.058
IEB authors: Manuela Krüger, Claudia Belz