Paola Bonfante - Selected Publications#

Selected publications from >500 published articles with >23,200 citations and an h-index of 85 (Google Scholar)

1. Scannerini S., P. Bonfante 1979. Ultrastructural cytochemical demonstration of polysaccharides and proteins within host–arbuscule interfacial matrix in an endomycorrhiza. New Phytologist 83: 87-94. DOI:

This paper offered the first detailed demonstration of the presence of cell-wall related molecules at the intercellular interface between the host plant and an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus. At the time, in situ techniques based on the use of antibodies were not yet available. Only later, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies as well as gold-bound lectins and enzymes were used to further characterize wall components of the interface. Some of the concepts developed in this paper have been largely acknowledged by the community (Bonfante 2018 for a short history).

2. Bonfante P. 1984. Anatomy and morphology of VA mycorrhizae. In VA mycorrhizas, C. Powell and J. Bagyaray Ed, CRC Press

This extended chapter (which continues to be quoted in present literature) provided the first detailed review of the morphological features of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizas (as they were known at the time), with a particular attention to the response of different cell types (outer cortical vs inner cortical cells) and taxon-specific traits of the colonization process in liverworts, pteridophytes, Gymnosperms and Angiosperms. An update on the same topics was presented a few years ago in Trends in Plant Science (Plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: an evolutionary-developmental perspective P. Bonfante, A. Genre, 2008).

3. Balestrini R., M.G. Hahn, A. Faccio, K. Mendgen, P. Bonfante, 1996. Differential localization of carbohydrate epitopes in plant cell walls in the presence and absence of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Plant Physiology 111: 203-213 DOI:

Plant membrane proliferation around intracellular fungal structures is a hallmark of mycorrhizal symbioses. In this paper, in situ techniques allowed the unprecedented detection of several plant cell wall components (i.e. pectins, cellulose, hemicellulose, and the hydroxyproline-rich protein glycoproteins) in the interface compartment, founding bases to our understanding of interface composition that remain valid today (see papers in Nature Plants, 2019 by M.Harrison and U..Paszkowski)

4. Bonfante P., I.A. Anca. 2009. Plants, mycorrhizal fungi, and bacteria: a network of interactions Annual Review of Microbiology 63, 363-383 doi:10.1146/annurev.micro.091208.073504

This frequently quoted review introduces the concept of bacteria as the third crucial components in mycorrhizal interactions. PB is considered the pioneer of the field, since she was one of the first to describe the presence of endobacteria inside AM fungi. (Bianciotto et al, 1996). The topic of fungal/bacterial interactions is currently considered as a new field of research raising the interest and collaboration of multiple scientific communities (see for example a recent review by A. Deveau et al FEMS Review 2018), but with many important feedbacks in the more general field of plant-microbe interactions.

5. Genre A., M. Chabaud, A.Faccio, D.G. Barker, P. Bonfante. 2008. Prepenetration apparatus assembly precedes and predicts the colonization patterns of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi within the root cortex of both Medicago truncatula and Daucus carota. The Plant Cell 20 (5), 1407-1420 DOI:

By using a combination of morphological and in situ approaches, this paper describes pre-penetration responses in the root cells of two plant species that prepare to accommodate an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus. Following up with a previous article (Plant Cell 2005), this discovery has been acknowledged as a groundbreaking contribution in the field of plant-fungal interactions, providing novel evidence for the major role of the plant cell in fungal colonization.

6. Chabaud M., A. Genre, B. J. Sieberer, A. Faccio, J. Fournier, M. Novero, D. G. Barker, P. Bonfante. 2011. Arbuscular mycorrhizal hyphopodia and germinated spore exudates trigger Ca2+ spiking in the legume and nonlegume root epidermis. New Phytologist 189: 347–355 DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03464.x

Looking for bioactive molecules released by AM fungi and perceived by the host plants has represented a relevant question for years. Maillet et al published in Nature (2010) the bioactive role of the so called lipopolysaccharides, but a similar relevant role is played by the chitooligosaccharides released by the fungal wall of AM fungi (Genre et al, 2013 New Phytol). This 2011 paper provided sound evidence of symbiotic signaling activation in response to diffusibile fungal signals. Some of the questions opened by this seminal paper have been developed in a review for Trends in Plant Science, 2015 (Do you speak plantish or fungish?)

7. Ghignone S., A. Salvioli, I. Anca, E. Lumini, G. Ortu, L. Petiti, S. Cruveiller, V. Bianciotto, P. Piffanelli, L. Lanfranco, P. Bonfante. 2012. The genome of the obligate endobacterium of an AM fungus reveals an interphylum network of nutritional interactions. The ISME journal 6: 136-145 doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.11

Starting from the observations of bacteria-like organisms living in the cytoplasm of AM fungi and from their identification as belonging to Burkolderia or Mycoplasma related, PB group offered the first genome sequence of an endobacterium living in a fungus which lives inside a plant. The potential flow of nutrients and signals was postulated on the basis of the reduced bacterial genome. This paper opened the way to many other papers describing the genomes of these fungal endobacteria. (reviewed in Bonfante and Desiro, 2017)

8. Salvioli A., S. Ghignone, M. Novero, L. Navazio, P. Bagnaresi, P. Bonfante 2016. Symbiosis with an endobacterium increases the fitness of a mycorrhizal fungus, raising its bioenergetic potential. The ISME journal 10:130-44 doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.91

The presence of endobacteria inside AM fungi raised many questions of evolutionary biology. A deep transcriptomic analysis of the fungus which contains or does not contain endobacteria allowed the demonstration of the positive impact of the bacterium which improves the fitness of the fungus, as also demonstrated by proteomic and metabolomic investigations (Vannini et al 2016; Venice et al 2017; Dearth et al 2018).

9. Chialva M, A. Salvioli di Fossalunga, S. Daghino, S. Ghignone, P. Bagnaresi, M. Chiapello, M. Novero, D. Spadaro, S. Perotto, P. Bonfante. 2018. Native soils with their microbiotas elicit a state of alert in tomato plants New Phytologist doi: 10.1111/nph.15014

Plants, like animals, have their own microbiota, which can have a powerful effect on their health. Indeed, many physiological functions require the presence of these mostly benign microbes and the establishment of specific plant-microbe relationships. The experiments illustrate how a natural microbiota (consisting of bacteria, filamentous and AM fungi) raises the level of the innate plant immunity, stimulating many genes related to the PTI reaction.

10. Jian You Wang, Imran Haider, Muhammad Jamil, Valentina Fiorilli, Yoshimoto Saito, Jianing Mi, Lina Baz, Boubacar A Kountche, Kun-Peng Jia, Xiujie Guo, Aparna Balakrishna, Valentine O Ntui, Beate Reinke, Veronica Volpe, Takashi Gojobori, Ikram Blilou, Luisa Lanfranco, Paola Bonfante, Salim Al-Babili, 2019. The apocarotenoid metabolite zaxinone regulates growth and strigolactone biosynthesis in rice. Nature Communications 10, 810. We have detected and characterized a new molecule, zaxinone , as a key regulator of rice development and biotic interactions. It has potential for increasing crop growth and combating Striga, a severe threat to global food security

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