AbstractSoil fungi facilitate the translocation of inorganic nutrients from soil minerals to other microorganisms and plants. This ability is particularly advantageous in impoverished soils, because fungal mycelial networks can bridge otherwise spatially disconnected and inaccessible nutrient hotspots. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying fungal mineral weathering and transport through soil remains poorly understood. Here, we addressed this knowledge gap by directly visualizing nutrient acquisition and transport through fungal hyphae in a mineral doped soil micromodel using a multimodal imaging approach. We observed that Fusarium sp. DS 682, a representative of common saprotrophic soil fungi, exhibited a mechanosensory response (thigmotropism) around obstacles and through pore spaces (~12 µm) in the presence of minerals. The fungus incorporated and translocated potassium (K) from K-rich mineral interfaces, as evidenced by visualization of mineral derived nutrient transport and unique K chemical moieties following fungal induced mineral weathering. Specific membrane transport proteins were expressed in the presence of minerals, including those involved in oxidative phosphorylation pathways and transmembrane transport of small molecular weight organic acids. This study establishes the significance of fungal biology and nutrient translocation mechanisms in maintaining fungal growth under water and nutrient limitations in a soil-like microenvironment.
Published: January 13, 2023