Genetic determinants of endophytism in the Arabidopsis root mycobiome

Nat Commun. 2021 Dec 10;12(1):7227. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27479-y.


The roots of Arabidopsis thaliana host diverse fungal communities that affect plant health and disease states. Here, we sequence the genomes of 41 fungal isolates representative of the A. thaliana root mycobiota for comparative analysis with other 79 plant-associated fungi. Our analyses indicate that root mycobiota members evolved from ancestors with diverse lifestyles and retain large repertoires of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes (PCWDEs) and effector-like small secreted proteins. We identify a set of 84 gene families associated with endophytism, including genes encoding PCWDEs acting on xylan (family GH10) and cellulose (family AA9). Transcripts encoding these enzymes are also part of a conserved transcriptional program activated by phylogenetically-distant mycobiota members upon host contact. Recolonization experiments with individual fungi indicate that strains with detrimental effects in mono-association with the host colonize roots more aggressively than those with beneficial activities, and dominate in natural root samples. Furthermore, we show that the pectin-degrading enzyme family PL1_7 links aggressiveness of endophytic colonization to plant health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / microbiology*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cellulose / metabolism
  • Endophytes / genetics*
  • Fungi / genetics*
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Genome
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Genomics
  • Mycobiome / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Roots / microbiology*
  • Symbiosis
  • Xylans / metabolism


  • Xylans
  • Cellulose