Equipe de Microbiologie Forestière, Centre de Recherches de Nancy, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, F-54280 Champenoux, France
Very little is known about the molecules regulating the interaction between plants and ectomycorrhizal fungi during root colonization. The role of fungal auxin in ectomycorrhiza has repeatedly been suggested and questioned, suggesting that, if fungal auxin controls some steps of colonized root development, its activity might be tightly controlled in time and in space by plant and/or fungal regulatory mechanisms. We demonstrate that fungal hypaphorine, the betaine of tryptophan, counteracts the activity of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) on eucalypt tap root elongation but does not affect the activity of the IAA analogs 2,4-D ((2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid) or NAA (1-naphthaleneacetic acid). These data suggest that IAA and hypaphorine interact during the very early steps of the IAA perception or signal transduction pathway. Furthermore, while seedling treatment with 1-amincocyclopro-pane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), the precursor of ethylene, results in formation of a hypocotyl apical hook, hypaphorine application as well as root colonization by Pisolithus tinctorius, a hypaphorine-accumulating ectomycorrhizal fungus, stimulated hook opening. Hypaphorine counteraction with ACC is likely a consequence of hypaphorine interaction with IAA. In most plant-microbe interactions studied, the interactions result in increased auxin synthesis or auxin accumulation in plant tissues. The P. tinctorius / eucalypt interaction is intriguing because in this interaction the microbe down-regulates the auxin activity in the host plant. Hypaphorine might be the first specific IAA antagonist identified.