Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Plants and their arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal symbionts interact in complex underground networks involving multiple partners. This increases the potential for exploitation and defection by individuals, raising the question of how partners maintain a fair, two-way transfer of resources. We manipulated cooperation in plants and fungal partners to show that plants can detect, discriminate, and reward the best fungal partners with more carbohydrates. In turn, their fungal partners enforce cooperation by increasing nutrient transfer only to those roots providing more carbohydrates. On the basis of these observations we conclude that, unlike many other mutualisms, the symbiont cannot be "enslaved." Rather, the mutualism is evolutionarily stable because control is bidirectional, and partners offering the best rate of exchange are rewarded.

Original publication

DOI

10.1126/science.1208473

Type

Journal article

Journal

Science

Publication Date

12/08/2011

Volume

333

Pages

880 - 882

Keywords

Biological Evolution, Carbohydrate Metabolism, Carbon, Glomeromycota, Medicago truncatula, Molecular Sequence Data, Mycorrhizae, Phosphorus, Plant Roots, RNA, Fungal, Species Specificity, Symbiosis