Genetics and evolution of the mycorrhizal symbiosis

Molecular Genetics and Evolution

Our work focuses on the mycorrhizal symbiosis between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. The symbiosis occurs in the majority of terrestrial plant species. Through the effects of the fungus on plant phosphorus acquisition, plants benefit and can grow better when forming the symbiosis. The association is ancient and our group seeks to understand the genetics and evolution of these important fungi and how AM fungal genetics can influence plant growth.

We have demonstrated three features of AM genetics that have important consequences for how plants grow. First, the fungi harbour genetically different nuclei in a common cytoplasm. Second, the fungi can fuse and the nuclei can mix giving rise to genetically novel AM fungi. Third, segregation of nuclei occurs during spore formation, giving rise to genetically different AM fungi. Both mixing of nuclei and segregation have important conseqences on the growth of rice. We manipulate the genetics of AM fungi using these processes to study which genes are affected in the plant by genetic changes in the fungus. These processes are natural and involve no gene insertion. A part of our work involves applying this technology to produce new strains of AM fungi for commerical inoculation of crops in Colombia (in collaboration with the National University of Colombia).

 

Recent Publications

  • Variation in allele frequencies at the bg112 locus reveals unequal inheritance of nuclei in a dikaryotic isolate of the fungus Rhizophagus irregularis
    Masclaux, Frederic G.; Wyss, Tania; Mateus-Gonzalez, Ivan D.; Aletti, Consolee; Sanders, Ian R.
    MYCORRHIZA, 28 (4):369-377; 10.1007/s00572-018-0834-z MAY 2018
  • Sex, plasticity, and biologically significant variation in one Glomeromycotina species
    Sanders I.R.,
    New Phytologist, 10.1111/nph.15049   2018
  • A population genomics approach shows widespread geographical distribution of cryptic genomic forms of the symbiotic fungus Rhizophagus irregularis 
    Savary, Romain; Masclaux, Frederic G.; Wyss, Tania; et al. 
    ISME JOURNAL, 12 (1): 17-30 10.1038/ismej.2017.153  JAN 2018
  • Cost-efficient production of in vitro Rhizophagus irregularis 
    Rosikiewicz, Pawel; Bonvin, Jeremy; Sanders, Ian R. 
    MYCORRHIZA, 27 (5): 477-486 10.1007/s00572-017-0763-2  JUL 2017
  • Bacteria with Phosphate Solubilizing Capacity Alter Mycorrhizal Fungal Growth Both Inside and Outside the Root and in the Presence of Native Microbial Communities.
    Ordoñez Y.M., Fernandez B.R., Lara L.S., Rodriguez A., Uribe-Vélez D., Sanders I.R.,
    2016. PloS one, 11 (6) pp. e0154438.  10.1371/journal.pone.0154438
  • Colombian-Swiss Research to Help Feed the Planet: From Green Revolution to Microbial Revolution
    Rodriguez Alia, Sanders Ian,
    Acta Biologica Colombiana, 21 pp. 297-303.  http://dx.doi.org/10.15446/abc.v21n1sup.50856 2016.
  • Aligning molecular studies of mycorrhizal fungal diversity with ecologically important levels of diversity in ecosystems 
    Sanders, Ian R.; Rodriguez, Alia 
    ISME JOURNAL, 10 (12): 2780-2786 DEC 2016 Article (Details)
  • Population genomics reveals that within-fungus polymorphism is common and maintained in populations of the mycorrhizal fungus Rhizophagus irregularis 
    Wyss, Tania; Masclaux, Frederic G.; Rosikiewicz, Pawel; et al. 
    ISME JOURNAL, 10 (10): 2514-2526 OCT 2016 Article (Details)
  • Bacteria with Phosphate Solubilizing Capacity Alter Mycorrhizal Fungal Growth Both Inside and Outside the Root and in the Presence of Native Microbial Communities 
    Marcela Ordonez, Yuli; Rocio Fernandez, Belen; Susana Lara, Lidia; et al. 
    PLOS ONE, 11 (6): JUN 2 2016 Article (Details)
Ian Sanders

Prof. Dr. Ian R. Sanders
University of Lausanne
Department of Ecology and Evolution
1015 Lausanne

Tel. +41 (0)21 692 42 61

Research topics

  • Genetics and evolutionary genetics of AM fungi 
  • Influence of AM fungal genetics on the symbiosis with plants
  • Importance of AM fungal diversity on plant communities
  • Biotechnological application of AM fungi in tropical agriculture in Colombia

Interdisciplinary

  • Molecular genetics
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Agronomy
  • Plant – microbe interactions