The methylome of the model arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus, Rhizophagus irregularis, shares characteristics with early diverging fungi and Dikarya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Joaquim Cruz Corella
  • Chanz Robbins
  • Anita Loha
  • Laure Menin
  • Natalia Gasilova
  • Frédéric G. Masclaux
  • Soon-jae Lee
  • Ian R. Sanders

Colleges, School and Institutes


Early-diverging fungi (EDF) are distinct from Dikarya and other eukaryotes, exhibiting high N6-methyldeoxyadenine (6mA) contents, rather than 5-methylcytosine (5mC). As plants transitioned to land the EDF sub-phylum, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF; Glomeromycotina) evolved a symbiotic lifestyle with 80% of plant species worldwide. Here we show that these fungi exhibit 5mC and 6mA methylation characteristics that jointly set them apart from other fungi. The model AMF, R. irregularis, evolved very high levels of 5mC and greatly reduced levels of 6mA. However, unlike the Dikarya, 6mA in AMF occurs at symmetrical ApT motifs in genes and is associated with their transcription. 6mA is heterogeneously distributed among nuclei in these coenocytic fungi suggesting functional differences among nuclei. While far fewer genes are regulated by 6mA in the AMF genome than in EDF, most strikingly, 6mA methylation has been specifically retained in genes implicated in components of phosphate regulation; the quintessential hallmark defining this globally important symbiosis.


Original languageEnglish
Article number901
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2021