Controlled Transfer of Endohyphal Symbionts among Fungal Strains

Case ID:

University of Arizona researchers discovered that diverse endophytic fungi were found to harbor endohyphal bacteria (EHB), which live within apparently healthy, viable fungal cells. Differences in suites of EHB between closely related fungal endophytes suggest horizontal transfer of these symbionts in nature. This relationship appears facultative for both partners, as bacteria can grow freely under laboratory conditions and the researchers successfully cured fungi of their EHB.


Plant-associated fungi provide important ecosystem services as pathogens, mycorrhizae, endophytes, and saprotrophs. Endophytic fungi colonize healthy, living plant tissues in all biomes, often providing protection from pathogens, herbivores, and other environmental stressors. Saprotrophic fungi are the primary decomposers of senescent plant materials, cycling nutrients by breaking down cellulose and lignin. Many fungi play more than one of these roles throughout their life cycles, with functional switches in ecological modes driven in part by interactions with additional microbes.


  • Can be used to control or alter large populations of fungi
  • Tailor bacteria for specific industrial and medical uses
  • Industrial and biofuel development


  • Novel method that is the first demonstration that transfer of bacteria among fungi is possible
  • Better understanding of how bacteria influence different fungi

Status: issued U.S. patents #10,000,733 and #10,913,927.

Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tod McCauley
Assistant Director of Licensing, CALS
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Anne Arnold
Kayla Arendt
David Baltrus