, Volume 244, Issue 1-2, pp 67-73

Molecular identification and phylogeny of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

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Abstract

The fossil record and molecular data show that the evolutionary history of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomales) goes back at least to the Ordovician (460 million years ago), coinciding with the colonization of the terrestrial environment by the first land plants. At that time, the land flora only consisted of plants on the bryophytic level. Ribosomal DNA sequences indicate that the diversity within the Glomales on the family and genus level is much higher than previously expected from morphology-based taxonomy. Two deeply divergent lineages were found and described in two new genera, Archaeospora and Paraglomus, each in its own family. Based on a fast-growing number of available DNA sequences, several systems for molecular identification of the Glomales within roots have been designed and tested in the past few years. These detection methods have opened up entirely new perspectives for studying the ecology of arbuscular mycorrhiza.