The most frequently encountered symbiont on tree roots is the ascomycete Cenococcum geophilum, the only mycorrhizal species within the largest fungal class Dothideomycetes, a class known for devastating plant pathogens. Here we show that the symbiotic genomic idiosyncrasies of ectomycorrhizal basidiomycetes are also present in C. geophilum with symbiosis-induced, taxon-specific genes of unknown function and reduced numbers of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes. C. geophilum still holds a significant set of genes in categories known to be involved in pathogenesis and shows an increased genome size due to transposable elements proliferation. Transcript profiling revealed a striking upregulation of membrane transporters, including aquaporin water channels and sugar transporters, and mycorrhiza-induced small secreted proteins (MiSSPs) in ectomycorrhiza compared with free-living mycelium. The frequency with which this symbiont is found on tree roots and its possible role in water and nutrient transport in symbiosis calls for further studies on mechanisms of host and environmental adaptation.
Journal: Nature communications