Scientists Discover that Symbiotic Fungi Get Carbon from Plants in the Form of Fatty Acids
Arbuscular mycrorrhizal fungi, which attack plant roots and then aid the
plant in nutrient absorption, get their carbon needs from their plant hosts
in the form of long-chain fatty acids, a building block for essential
lipids. This is according to the discovery of plant scientists from
Rothamsted Research and John Innes Center, which was published in the
journal Science. This important discovery debunks the long-standing
literature that plant delivers carbon through carbohydrates to the symbiotic
fungi, then the fungi manufacture their own fatty acids for survival.
The researchers initially isolated two important
involved in sustaining symbiosis. "We grappled with understanding why these
genes were so important until we came up with the hypothesis that the
symbiosis created a lipid factory in the plant that fed the fungus," said
Peter Eastmond, co-leader of the study from Rothamsted.
Eastmond also stressed that their discovery has important implications for
sustainable agriculture, particularly in developing crops that can thrive in
nutrient-poor soils. Their discovery can also be used in developing green
pathways to produce lipids in plants, for
biofuels and for precursor chemicals for industrial applications, as an
alternative to fossil fuels.