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Elife. 2017 Jul 20;6. pii: e29107. doi: 10.7554/eLife.29107.

Lipid transfer from plants to arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi.

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Faculty of Biology, Genetics, LMU Munich, Biocenter Martinsried, Munich, Germany.
Institute of Molecular Physiology and Biotechnology of Plants, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
Biochemistry, Technical University Munich, Garching, Germany.
Laboratoire de Recherche en Sciences Végétale, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse, France.
Faculty of Biology, Plant Sciences, LMU Munich, Biocenter Martinsried, Munich, Germany.
John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, United Kingdom.


Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) symbioses contribute to global carbon cycles as plant hosts divert up to 20% of photosynthate to the obligate biotrophic fungi. Previous studies suggested carbohydrates as the only form of carbon transferred to the fungi. However, de novo fatty acid (FA) synthesis has not been observed in AM fungi in absence of the plant. In a forward genetic approach, we identified two Lotus japonicus mutants defective in AM-specific paralogs of lipid biosynthesis genes (KASI and GPAT6). These mutants perturb fungal development and accumulation of emblematic fungal 16:1ω5 FAs. Using isotopolog profiling we demonstrate that 13C patterns of fungal FAs recapitulate those of wild-type hosts, indicating cross-kingdom lipid transfer from plants to fungi. This transfer of labelled FAs was not observed for the AM-specific lipid biosynthesis mutants. Thus, growth and development of beneficial AM fungi is not only fueled by sugars but depends on lipid transfer from plant hosts.


A. thaliana; Lotus japonicus; Rhizophagus irregularis; arbuscular mycorrhiza; lipids; plant biology; root symbiosis

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