At the nexus of three kingdoms: the genome of the mycorrhizal fungus Gigaspora margarita provides insights into plant, endobacterial and fungal interactions

Environ Microbiol. 2020 Jan;22(1):122-141. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14827. Epub 2019 Oct 31.


As members of the plant microbiota, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF, Glomeromycotina) symbiotically colonize plant roots. AMF also possess their own microbiota, hosting some uncultivable endobacteria. Ongoing research has revealed the genetics underlying plant responses to colonization by AMF, but the fungal side of the relationship remains in the dark. Here, we sequenced the genome of Gigaspora margarita, a member of the Gigasporaceae in an early diverging group of the Glomeromycotina. In contrast to other AMF, G. margarita may host distinct endobacterial populations and possesses the largest fungal genome so far annotated (773.104 Mbp), with more than 64% transposable elements. Other unique traits of the G. margarita genome include the expansion of genes for inorganic phosphate metabolism, the presence of genes for production of secondary metabolites and a considerable number of potential horizontal gene transfer events. The sequencing of G. margarita genome reveals the importance of its immune system, shedding light on the evolutionary pathways that allowed early diverging fungi to interact with both plants and bacteria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Base Sequence
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Genome, Fungal / genetics
  • Glomeromycota / genetics
  • Glomeromycota / physiology*
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Mycorrhizae / physiology*
  • Plant Roots / microbiology*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Symbiosis / physiology*