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The Lotus japonicus LjSym4 Gene Is Required for the Successful Symbiotic Infection of Root Epidermal Cells

October 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  10
Pages  1,109 - 1,120

Paola Bonfante , 1 Andrea Genre , 1 Antonella Faccio , 1 Isabella Martini , 1 Leif Schauser , 2 Jens Stougaard , 2 Judith Webb , 3 and Martin Parniske 4

1Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale dell'Università and CSMT-CNR 10125 Torino, Italy; 2Laboratory of Gene Expression, Department of Molecular and Structural Biology, University of Aarhus, Gustav Wieds Vej 10, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark; 3Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3EB, U.K.; 4The Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UH, U.K.


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Accepted 6 June 2000.

The role of the Lotus japonicus LjSym4 gene during the symbiotic interaction with Mesorhizobium loti and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi was analyzed with two mutant alleles conferring phenotypes of different strength. Ljsym4-1 and Ljsym4-2 mutants do not form nodules with M. loti.Normal root hair curling and infection threads are not observed, while a nodC-dependent deformation of root hair tips indicates that nodulation factors are still perceived by Ljsym4 mutants. Fungal infection attempts on the mutants generally abort within the epidermis, but Ljsym4-1 mutants allow rare, successful, infection events, leading to delayed arbuscule formation. On roots of mutants homozygous for the Ljsym4-2 allele, arbuscule formation was never observed upon inoculation with either of the two AM fungi, Glomus intraradices or Gigaspora margarita. The strategy of epidermal penetration by G. margarita was identical for Ljsym4-2 mutants and the parental line, with appressoria, hyphae growing between two epidermal cells, penetration of epidermal cells through their anticlinal wall. These observations define a novel, genetically controlled step in AM colonization. Although rhizobia penetrate the tip of root hairs and AM fungi access an entry site near the base of epidermal cells, the LjSym4 gene is necessary for the appropriate response of this cell type to both microsymbionts. We propose that LjSym4 is required for the initiation or coordinated expression of the host plant cell's accommodation program, allowing the passage of both microsymbionts through the epidermis layer.


Additional keywords: cell death, cell wall.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society