Ancestral alliances: Plant mutualistic symbioses with fungi and bacteria
Within the plant microbiota, mutualistic fungal and bacterial symbionts are striking examples of microorganisms playing crucial roles in nutrient acquisition. They have coevolved with their hosts since initial plant adaptation to land. Despite the evolutionary distances that separate mycorrhizal and nitrogen-fixing symbioses, these associations share a number of highly conserved features, including specific plant symbiotic signaling pathways, root colonization strategies that circumvent plant immune responses, functional host-microbe interface formation, and the central role of phytohormones in symbiosis-associated root developmental pathways. We highlight recent and emerging areas of investigation relating to these evolutionarily conserved mechanisms, with an emphasis on the more ancestral mycorrhizal associations, and consider to what extent this knowledge can contribute to an understanding of plant-microbiota associations as a whole.