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The ftsZ Gene of the Endocellular Bacterium ‘Candidatus Glomeribacter gigasporarum’ Is Preferentially Expressed During the Symbiotic Phases of Its Host Mycorrhizal Fungus

March 2009 , Volume 22 , Number  3
Pages  302 - 310

Iulia-Andra Anca,1 Erica Lumini,1 Stefano Ghignone,2 Alessandra Salvioli,1 Valeria Bianciotto,2 and Paola Bonfante1,2

1Università degli Studi di Torino, Dip. Biologia Vegetale, V. le P.A. Mattioli 25, I-10125, Torino, Italy; 2Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Istituto per la Protezione delle Piante—Sezione di Torino, V. le P.A. Mattioli 25, I-10125, Torino, Italy

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Accepted 29 October 2008.

The arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AM) Gigaspora margarita consistently hosts bacteria, named ‘Candidatus Glomeribacter gigasporarum,’ inside its cytoplasm. Endobacteria have a positive impact on fungal fitness during the presymbiotic phase, prior to plant roots colonization. We tested the hypothesis that the endobacterium and its cell divisions depend on fungal metabolism, mirroring also the events of the fungal life cycle which are influenced by plant signals. We first cloned a fragment of ftsZ, a marker gene for bacterial division, and then analyzed its expression along the different stages of fungus development. The bacterial gene transcripts showed the highest values when the fungus was associated to the plant, and peaked in the extraradical mycelium. Strigolactones, which are known to stimulate the AM fungal growth, caused a significant transcript increase in the germinated spores in the absence of the plant. The quantitative real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction data were strengthened by the quantification of the dividing bacteria, which were increasing in number in germinating spores after the strigolactone treatment. The bioactive molecule alone did not cause any change in the number of bacteria after their isolation from the fungus, thus showing that the strigolactone alone cannot confer free-living capacities to the bacterium.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society