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Reprogramming roots for fungal symbiosis

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A major limitation to plant growth is restricted access to nutrients in the soil. To improve nutrient acquisition, the majority of land plants enter a beneficial symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. In return for mineral nutrients, plants deliver fixed carbon to the obligate biotrophic fungus. This nutrient exchange takes place through highly branched hyphal structures called arbuscules that form in the inner cortical cells of the root. Accommodating fungal hyphae in roots requires extensive transcriptional reprogramming of host cells. Several GRAS -domain proteins, including NSP1 (NODULATION SIGNALLING PATHWAY 1 ) and RAM1 (REQUIRED FOR ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZATION 1 ), have emerged as important transcriptional regulators during mycorrhizal colonization, however, little is known about the target genes and biological processes that are regulated by these transcription factors. We investigated the functions of NSP1 and RAM1 during AM development by detailed phenotypic and transcriptional analyses of the corresponding loss‐of‐function mutants. We found that NSP1 is required for the expression of a large number of genes involved in strigolactone biosynthesis at the pre‐contact stage of AM development. Unlike NSP1 , RAM1 plays a critical role in the transcriptional control at later stages of AM symbiosis, regulating the expression of several genes involved in a lipid biosynthesis and export pathway that supplies fatty acids to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which are fatty acid auxotrophs.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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