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Diversity of mitochondrial large subunit rDNA haplotypes of Glomus intraradices in two agricultural field experiments and two semi-natural grasslands

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Glomus intraradices, an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF), is frequently found in a surprisingly wide range of ecosystems all over the world. It is used as model organism for AMF and its genome is being sequenced. Despite the ecological importance of AMF, little has been known about their population structure, because no adequate molecular markers have been available. In the present study we analyse for the first time the intraspecific genetic structure of an AMF directly from colonized roots in the field. A recently developed PCR-RFLP approach for the mitochondrial rRNA large subunit gene (mtLSU) of these obligate symbionts was used and complemented by sequencing and primers specific for a particularly frequent mtLSU haplotype. We analysed root samples from two agricultural field experiments in Switzerland and two semi-natural grasslands in France and Switzerland. RFLP type composition of G. intraradices (phylogroup GLOM A-1) differed strongly between agricultural and semi-natural sites and the G. intraradices populations of the two agricultural sites were significantly differentiated. RFLP type richness was higher in the agricultural sites compared with the grasslands. Detailed sequence analyses which resolved multiple sequence haplotypes within some RFLP types even revealed that there was no overlap of haplotypes among any of the study sites except between the two grasslands. Our results demonstrate a surprisingly high differentiation among semi-natural and agricultural field sites for G. intraradices. These findings will have major implications on our views of processes of adaptation and specialization in these plant/fungus associations.
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Keywords: Glomus intraradices; agriculture; genetic differentiation; mutualism; mycorrhiza; population structure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Hebelstrasse 1, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland 2: Department of Mycorrhizal Symbioses, Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Lesní 322, 25243 Průhonice, Czech Republic 3: Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse, CH-5070 Frick, Switzerland

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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