Understanding the Variety of Root Growth Traits in Different Fungal Strains

Greg Howard
4th June, 2024

Understanding the Variety of Root Growth Traits in Different Fungal Strains

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by the Czech Academy of Sciences explored how different genotypes of the AM fungus Rhizophagus irregularis acquire and supply nitrogen to plants
  • All fungal genotypes transferred more nitrogen to plants compared to non-mycorrhizal controls, showing their active role in nitrogen transfer
  • Some genotypes, like MA2 and STSI, showed higher efficiency in exploring nitrogen-rich zones, indicating distinct nitrogen acquisition strategies
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi form symbiotic relationships with most plants, enhancing their nutrient uptake and growth. Recent research conducted by the Czech Academy of Sciences has focused on understanding the intraspecific variability of Rhizophagus irregularis, a common AM fungus, with respect to nitrogen (N) acquisition and supply to plants[1]. This study aims to shed light on how different genotypes of this fungus function under various environmental conditions, a topic that has seen fragmented knowledge until now. The researchers compared seven homokaryotic isolates (genotypes) of R. irregularis to characterize the range of variability in hyphal exploration of organic nitrogen resources and N supply to plants. Two experiments were established: one in vitro and one in open pots, both utilizing 15N-chitin as the isotopically labeled organic N source. In the first experiment (in vitro), all AM fungal genotypes transferred a higher amount of 15N to the plants compared to the non-mycorrhizal (NM) controls, indicating the active role of the fungi in nitrogen transfer. Interestingly, certain genotypes, such as LPA9, produced more extraradical mycelium biomass but did not necessarily show greater 15N acquisition than others. This suggests that biomass production is not directly correlated with nitrogen acquisition efficiency. The second experiment (in pots) revealed that some AM fungal genotypes, like MA2 and STSI, exhibited higher rates of targeted hyphal exploration in chitin-enriched zones. This indicates distinct nitrogen exploration patterns among the genotypes. The consistency of hyphal exploration patterns between the two experiments, despite different environmental conditions, underscores the robustness of these genotypic traits. For example, isolate STSI consistently showed the highest efficiency in hyphal exploration, while isolate L23/1 was consistently the lowest. These findings suggest that different AM fungal genotypes may employ specific strategies for efficient nitrogen acquisition. Understanding these strategies can have significant implications for local mycorrhizal community assembly and plant growth enhancement. Previous studies have highlighted the genetic diversity within AM fungi and its impact on plant growth. For instance, research on Glomus intraradices demonstrated significant genetic diversity across different habitats and its potential influence on plant symbiosis[2]. Similarly, the genetic variability within Glomus mosseae has been shown to be much higher than previously thought, suggesting a need for further investigation into functional diversity[3]. The current study builds on these findings by exploring how genetic differences within a single species, R. irregularis, translate into functional differences in nitrogen acquisition and supply. Moreover, earlier work on AM fungi has shown that genetic segregation and exchange can enhance plant growth and alter symbiosis-specific gene transcription in plants[4]. The current study's focus on intraspecific variability and genotype-specific traits in nitrogen acquisition further elucidates the mechanisms by which AM fungi influence plant growth and nutrient uptake. In conclusion, the research by the Czech Academy of Sciences provides valuable insights into the intraspecific variability of Rhizophagus irregularis in nitrogen acquisition and supply to plants. By identifying specific genotypes with efficient nitrogen exploration patterns, this study opens up new avenues for optimizing AM fungal applications in agriculture, ultimately enhancing crop growth and sustainability. The implications of these findings for local mycorrhizal community assembly and plant-fungal symbiosis warrant further investigation.



Main Study

1) Unraveling the diversity of hyphal explorative traits among Rhizophagus irregularis genotypes

Published 3rd June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Genetic diversity of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Glomus intraradices as determined by mitochondrial large subunit rRNA gene sequences is considerably higher than previously expected.


3) Genetic and phenotypic diversity of geographically different isolates of Glomus mosseae.


4) Segregation in a mycorrhizal fungus alters rice growth and symbiosis-specific gene transcription.


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