Fungal Mating in the Most Widespread Plant Symbionts?

Trends Plant Sci. 2017 Feb;22(2):175-183. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.10.010. Epub 2016 Nov 19.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are relevant plant symbionts whose hyphae and spores carry hundreds of coexisting nuclei with supposedly divergent genomes but no sign of sexual reproduction. This unusual biology suggested that conventional fungal mating is not amendable to optimize strains for plant growth, but recent evidence of sexual-related nuclear inheritance in these organisms is now challenging this widespread notion. Here, we outline our knowledge of AMF genetics within a historical context, and discuss how past and new information in this area changed our understanding of AMF biology. We also highlight the mating-related processes in AMF, and propose new research avenues and approaches that could lead to a better application of these organisms for agricultural and environmental practices.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Mycorrhizae / physiology*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Spores, Fungal / physiology
  • Symbiosis