Rethinking of the roles of endophyte symbiosis and mycotoxin in oxytropis plants

Authors Organisations
  • Huirui Guan(Author)
    Northwest University
  • Xin Liu(Author)
    Shaanxi Institute for Food and Drug Control
  • Luis Mur(Author)
  • Yanping Fu(Author)
    Northwest University
  • Yahui Wei(Author)
    Northwest University
  • Jing Wang(Author)
    Northwest University
    Inner Mongolia Agricultural University
  • Wei He(Author)
    Northwest University
    Inner Mongolia Agricultural University
Type Review article
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere400
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Fungi
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021
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Plants in the Oxytropis genus can live with the endophytic fungi Alternaria sect. Undifilum. Swainsonine, the mycotoxin produced by the endophyte render the host plant toxic and this has been detrimental to grazing livestock in both China and U.S.A. Despite previous efforts, many questions remain to be solved, such as the transmission mode and life cycle of host–endophyte symbiont, the biosynthesis pathway of swainsonine, and in particular the ecological role and evolution of such symbiosis. In this review, we compile the literature to synthesize ideas on the diversity of the symbiosis and propagation of the endophyte. We further compare the previous work from both Alternaria sect. Undifilum and other swainsonine producing fungi to orchestrate a more comprehensive biosynthesis pathway of swainsonine. We also connect swainsonine biosynthesis pathway with that of its precursor, lysine, and link this to a potential role in modulating plant stress response. Based on this we hypothesize that this host–endophyte co-evolution originated from the needs for host plant to adapt for stress. Validation of this hypothesis will depend on future research on endophytic symbiosis in Oxytropis and help in better understanding the roles of plant–endophyte symbiosis in non-Poaceae species.


  • Alternaria sect. Undifilum, Locoweed, Oxytropis, Swainsonine, Symbiosis