Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are obligately biotrophic organisms that live symbiotically with the roots of most plants. The establishment of a functional symbiosis between AM fungi and host plants involves a sequence of recognition events leading to the morphological and physiological integration of the two symbionts. The developmental switches in the fungi are triggered by host signals which induce changes in gene expression and a process leading to unequivocal recognition between the two partners of the symbiosis. It has been calculated that about 80% of plant families from all phyla of land plants are hosts of AM fungi. The remaining plant species are either non-mycorrhizal or hosts of mycorrhizas other than the arbuscular type. Non-host plants have been used to obtain information on the factors regulating the development of a functional symbiosis. The aim of this present review is to highlight present-day knowledge of the fungal developmental switches involved in the process of host/non-host discrimination. The following stages of the life cycle of AM fungi are analysed in detail: spore germination, presymbiotic mycelial growth, differential branching pattern and chemotropism, appressorium formation, root colonization.
KeywordsGene Expression Plant Species Life Cycle Host Plant Arbuscular Mycorrhizal
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