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The Root-Colonizing Endophyte Pirifomospora indica Confers Drought Tolerance in Arabidopsis by Stimulating the Expression of Drought Stress--Related Genes in Leaves

June 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  6
Pages  799 - 807

Irena Sherameti,1 Swati Tripathi,2 Ajit Varma,2 and Ralf Oelmüller1

1Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Institut für Allgemeine Botanik und Pflanzenphysiologie, Dornburger Str. 159, 07743 Jena, Germany; 2Amity Institute of Microbial Sciences, Amity University, Sector 125, Noida 201303, UP, India

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Accepted 15 January 2008.

Piriformospora indica is an endophytic fungus that colonizes the roots of many plant species, including Arabidopsis. We exposed 18-day-old Arabidopsis seedlings, which were either cocultivated with the fungus or mock-treated for the last 9 days, to mild drought stress for 84 h. During the first 36 to 48 h, seedlings cocultivated with the fungus continued to grow, while the uncolonized controls did not. This results in a threefold difference in the fresh weight and a more than twofold difference in the chlorophyll content. The photosynthetic efficiency was only slightly reduced in the colonized (F variable/F maximum [Fv/Fm] at t0h = 0.82 and t36h = 0.79) and was severely impaired in the uncolonized (Fv/Fm at t0h = 0.81 and t36h = 0.49) seedlings, which also showed symptoms of withering. When seedlings exposed to drought stress for 72 or 84 h were transferred to soil, 10% (72 h) and none (84 h) of uncolonized seedlings reached the flowering stage and produced seeds, while 59% (72 h) and 47% (84 h) of the colonized seedlings flowered and produced seeds. After exposure to drought stress for 3 h, the message levels for RESPONSE TO DEHYDRATION 29A, EARLY RESPONSE TO DEHYDRATION1, ANAC072, DEHYDRATION-RESPONSE ELEMENT BINDING PROTEIN2A, SALT-, AND DROUGHT-INDUCED RING FINGER1, phospholipase Dδ, CALCINEURIN B-LIKE PROTEIN (CBL)1, CBL-INTERACTING PROTEIN KINASE3, and the histone acetyltransferase (HAT) were upregulated in the leaves of P. indica--colonized seedlings. Uncolonized seedlings responded 3 to 6 h later, and the message levels increased much less. We identified an Arabidopsis ethylmethane-sulfonate mutant that is less resistant to drought stress and in which the stress-related genes were not upregulated in the presence of P. indica. Thus, P. indica confers drought-stress tolerance to Arabidopsis, and this is associated with the priming of the expression of a quite diverse set of stress-related genes in the leaves. Transfer to soil was again associated with a faster and stronger upregulation of the message levels for phospholipase Dδ, CBL1, and HAT in P. indica--colonized seedlings, indicating that this response might also contribute to better survival on soil.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society