The driving force behind arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) interactions is an exchange of nutrients between fungus and plant. Glomeromycotan fungi are obligate symbionts and rely on the carbon provided by their plant hosts to complete their life cycle. In return, the fungus provides nutritional benefits to the plant, notably by delivering minerals. The majority of this nutrient exchange is thought to occur in root cortical cells containing the highly-branched fungal arbuscules. In this chapter, we describe the molecular components of the arbusculated cell and the proteins involved in the transfer of nutrients between fungus and plant. We consider, in detail, the passage of phosphorous and nitrogen from the soil to the arbusculated cell and the concomitant delivery of carbon to the fungal symbiont. In natural conditions, the exchange of nutrients does not need to be completely equitable and selective pressure may act on both partners to push the balance in their favour. In cultivated plants, the artificial environment may further distort the balance. We discuss how a better understanding of the molecular regulation of nutrient transfer benefits attempts to optimise AM associations for agricultural use.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences