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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995 Jan;61(1):58-64.

Fatty Acid methyl ester profiles for characterization of glomalean fungi and their endomycorrhizae.


Arbuscule-forming fungi in the order Glomales form obligate endomycorrhizal associations with plants that make them difficult to quantify, and taxonomy of the group is only beginning to be objectively understood. Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles were analyzed to assess the diversity and quantity of fatty acids in 53 isolates of 24 glomalean species. Spores and endomycorrhizal roots of sudan grass (Sorghum sudanense) and the citrus rootstock Carrizo citrange (Poncirus trifoliata x Citrus sinensis) were examined. Spores yielded reproducible FAME profiles from replicate spore collections extracted from soil pot cultures despite being grown in association with a host plant and with contaminating microorganisms present. Unweighted pair group analysis revealed relatively tight clusters of groups at the intraspecific, specific, and generic levels; however, lipid profiles at the family level were convergent. Thus, FAME profile comparisons provided a robust measure of similarity below the family level. FAME profiles in sudan grass roots containing vesicles and/or spores of Glomus intraradices were more similar to spore profiles than to profiles from nonmycorrhizal roots. The FAME profiles for Gigaspora species, which do not form vesicles or spores in roots, were less distinct from nonmycorrhizal roots. G. intraradices and G. rosea produced fatty acids in roots that were distinguishable from each other as well as from the host root. Production in citrus roots of the fatty acid 16:1(inf(omega)5) cis by two Glomus species was correlated with the development of mycorrhizal colonization as measured by clearing and staining procedures and by estimates of total incidence and vesicle intensity. FAME analysis of roots not only provided a measure of colonization development but also served as an index of carbon allocated to intraradical fungal growth and lipid storage.

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