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Biol Bull. 2003 Apr;204(2):215-20.

Plants, mycorrhizal fungi and endobacteria: a dialog among cells and genomes.

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Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale dell' Università di Torino and Istituto di Protezione delle Piante, Sezione di Torino, Viale Mattioli 25, 10125 Torino, Italy.


This review focuses on mycorrhizas, which are associations between fungi and the roots of 90% of terrestrial plants. These are the most common symbioses in the world; they involve about 6000 species of fungi distributed through all the fungal phyla and about 240000 species of plants, including forest and crop plants. Thanks to mycorrhizal symbiosis and nutrient exchanges, regulated by complex molecular signals, the plant improves its vegetative growth, while the fungus accomplishes its life cycle. Molecular and cellular analyses demonstrate that during colonization the cellular organization of the two eukaryotes is completely remodeled. For example, in cortical cells, structural modifications involve both the host and the microbiont. Recent studies revealed that in arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM), system complexity is increased by the presence of a third symbiont: a bacterium living inside the fungus. The presence of this resident genome makes the investigation of the molecular dialogues among the symbiotic partners even more complex. Molecular analysis showed that the bacterium has genes involved in the acquisition of mineral nutrients. The experimental data support the current view that mycorrhizal symbioses are often tripartite associations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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