Mycorrhizal fungi form mutually beneficial interactions with a wide range of terrestrial plants. During this symbiosis, the associated fungus provides mineral nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, to its host plant in exchange of photosynthesis-derived carbohydrates. Genome sequencing of mycorrhizal fungi has shown that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and ectomycorrhizal fungi have a restricted set of plant-cell wall degrading enzymes (PCWDE) genes, while orchid and ericoid mycorrhizal fungi have an extended PCWDE repertoire similar to soil decomposers and wood-decay fungi. On the other hand, mycorrhizal fungi have retained a substantial set of carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes) acting on microbial polysaccharides. Functional analysis has shown that several of the remaining PCWDEs are involved in the fungal root colonization and establishment of the symbiotic interface. In this review, we highlight the current knowledge on the evolution and function of PCWDEs in mycorrhizal fungi.

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