Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions, UMR CNRS-INRA 2594/441, BP 52627 31326, Castanet-Tolosan Cedex, France
The arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and the rhizobia-legume (RL) root endosymbioses are established as a result of signal exchange in which there is mutual recognition of diffusible signals produced by plant and microbial partners. It was discovered 20 years ago that the key symbiotic signals produced by rhizobial bacteria are lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCO), called Nod factors. These LCO are perceived via lysin-motif (LysM) receptors and activate a signaling pathway called the common symbiotic pathway (CSP), which controls both the RL and the AM symbioses. Recent work has established that an AM fungus, Glomus intraradices, also produces LCO that activate the CSP, leading to induction of gene expression and root branching in Medicago truncatula. These Myc-LCO also stimulate mycorrhization in diverse plants. In addition, work on the nonlegume Parasponia andersonii has shown that a LysM receptor is required for both successful mycorrhization and nodulation. Together these studies show that structurally related signals and the LysM receptor family are key components of both nodulation and mycorrhization. LysM receptors are also involved in the perception of chitooligosaccharides (CO), which are derived from fungal cell walls and elicit defense responses and resistance to pathogens in diverse plants. The discovery of Myc-LCO and a LysM receptor required for the AM symbiosis, therefore, not only raises questions of how legume plants discriminate fungal and bacterial endosymbionts but also, more generally, of how plants discriminate endosymbionts from pathogenic microorganisms using structurally related LCO and CO signals and of how these perception mechanisms have evolved.