AMONG the Eukaryota, the true fungi comprise four divisions (Chytridiomycota, Zymogomycota, Ascomycota and Basidio-mycota) that constitute a natural group which is thought to have diverged about 1 billion (109) years ago, believed also to be the time of divergence between metaphyta and metazoa lineages1. The endosymbionts responsible for the most prevalent plant root symbiosis, the vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM) or, more appropriately, arbuscular mycorrhizae, comprise 130 species of fungi classified in the Zygomycotina, order Glomales2–4. The arbuscular endomycorrhizae are considered to be ecologically important for most vascular plants5–8 in view of their beneficial effects on plant growth and survival. They are one of the few plant-fungus associations with a fossil record and may even have facilitated the origin of land flora. But the biochemical and genetic characterization of these microsymbionts has been hampered by the inability to grow them in pure culture. To investigate the origin and clarify the phylogenetic relationships of these organisms, we have sequenced ribosomal DNA genes from twelve species. Our phylogenetic analyses confirm the existence of three families within arbuscular fungi on the basis of morphological characters. We obtain approximate dates for the divergence of major branche's on the phylogenetic tree. These include an estimate for the origin of VAM-like fungi of 353–462 Myr ago, which is consistent with the hypothesis that VAM were instrumental in the colonization of land by ancient plants.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Knoll, A. H. Science 256, 622–627 (1992).
Morton, J. B. Mycotaxon 37, 493–515 (1990).
Morton, J. B. & Benny, G. L. Mycotaxon 37, 471–491 (1990).
Morton, J. B. Mycologia 82, 192–207 (1990).
Gederman, H. A. Rev. Phytopath. 6, 397–418 (1968).
Mosse, B. A. Rev. Phytopath. 11, 171–196 (1973).
Pérez, Y. & Schenck, N. C. Mycologia 82, 256–260 (1990).
Trappe, J. M. in Ecophysiology of VA Mycorrhizal Plants (ed. Safir, G. R.) 5–25 (CRC, Boca Raton, 1987).
Bruns, T. D. et al. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 1, 231–241 (1992).
Stubblefield, S. P., Taylor, T. N. & Trappe, J. M. Am. J. Bot. 74, 1904–1911 (1987).
Pirozynski, K. A. & Dalpé, Y. Symbiosis 7, 1–36 (1989).
Li, P. & Bousquet, J. Molec. Biol. Evol. 9, 1185–1189 (1992).
Wolfe, K. H., Gouy, M., Yang, Y. W., Sharp, P. & Li, W. H. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 86, 6201–6205 (1989).
Stewart, W. N. Paleobotany and the Evolution of Plants (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1983).
Pirozynski, K. A. & Malloch, D. W. BioSystems 6, 153–164 (1975).
Simon, L., Lalonde, M. & Bruns, T. D. Appl. envir. Microbiol. 58, 291–295 (1992).
Swofford, D. L. PAUP-Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony (Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, 1990).
Jukes, T. H. & Cantor, C. R. in Mammalian Protein Metabolism (ed. Munro, H. N.) 21–132 (Academic, New York, 1969).
Saitou, N. & Nei, M. Molec. Biol. Evol. 4, 406–425 (1987).
Kimura, M. J. molec. Evol. 16, 111–120 (1980).
About this article
Cite this article
Simon, L., Bousquet, J., Lévesque, R. et al. Origin and diversification of endomycorrhizal fungi and coincidence with vascular land plants. Nature 363, 67–69 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1038/363067a0
Fungal Diversity (2022)
Target of rapamycin, PvTOR, is a key regulator of arbuscule development during mycorrhizal symbiosis in Phaseolus
Scientific Reports (2021)
A historical perspective on mycorrhizal mutualism emphasizing arbuscular mycorrhizas and their emerging challenges
Celebrating INVAM: 35 years of the largest living culture collection of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Evolution of freshwater Diaporthomycetidae (Sordariomycetes) provides evidence for five new orders and six new families
Fungal Diversity (2021)