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1.  The CRE1 Cytokinin Pathway Is Differentially Recruited Depending on Medicago truncatula Root Environments and Negatively Regulates Resistance to a Pathogen 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0116819.
Cytokinins are phytohormones that regulate many developmental and environmental responses. The Medicago truncatula cytokinin receptor MtCRE1 (Cytokinin Response 1) is required for the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with rhizobia. As several cytokinin signaling genes are modulated in roots depending on different biotic and abiotic conditions, we assessed potential involvement of this pathway in various root environmental responses. Phenotyping of cre1 mutant roots infected by the Gigaspora margarita arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiotic fungus, the Aphanomyces euteiches root oomycete, or subjected to an abiotic stress (salt), were carried out. Detailed histological analysis and quantification of cre1 mycorrhized roots did not reveal any detrimental phenotype, suggesting that MtCRE1 does not belong to the ancestral common symbiotic pathway shared by rhizobial and AM symbioses. cre1 mutants formed an increased number of emerged lateral roots compared to wild-type plants, a phenotype which was also observed under non-stressed conditions. In response to A. euteiches, cre1 mutants showed reduced disease symptoms and an increased plant survival rate, correlated to an enhanced formation of lateral roots, a feature previously linked to Aphanomyces resistance. Overall, we showed that the cytokinin CRE1 pathway is not only required for symbiotic nodule organogenesis but also affects both root development and resistance to abiotic and biotic environmental stresses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116819
PMCID: PMC4285552  PMID: 25562779
2.  CAROTENOID CLEAVAGE DIOXYGENASE 7 modulates plant growth, reproduction, senescence, and determinate nodulation in the model legume Lotus japonicus 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(7):1967-1981.
Strigolactones (SLs) are newly identified hormones that regulate multiple aspects of plant development, infection by parasitic weeds, and mutualistic symbiosis in the roots. In this study, the role of SLs was studied for the first time in the model plant Lotus japonicus using transgenic lines silenced for CAROTENOID CLEAVAGE DIOXYGENASE 7 (LjCCD7), the orthologue of Arabidopsis More Axillary Growth 3. Transgenic LjCCD7-silenced plants displayed reduced height due to shorter internodes, and more branched shoots and roots than the controls, and an increase in total plant biomass, while their root:shoot ratio remained unchanged. Moreover, these lines had longer primary roots, delayed senescence, and reduced flower/pod numbers from the third round of flower and pod setting onwards. Only a mild reduction in determinate nodule numbers and hardly any impact on the colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi were observed. The results show that the impairment of CCD7 activity in L. japonicus leads to a phenotype linked to SL functions, but with specific features possibly due to the peculiar developmental pattern of this plant species. It is believed that the data also link determinate nodulation, plant reproduction, and senescence to CCD7 function for the first time.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert056
PMCID: PMC3638823  PMID: 23567864
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF); carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase; determinate nodulation; leaf senescence; Lotus japonicus; reproduction; shoot and root branching; strigolactone.
3.  From root to fruit: RNA-Seq analysis shows that arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis may affect tomato fruit metabolism 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:221.
Background
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) establishes a beneficial symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. The formation of the mycorrhizal association in the roots leads to plant-wide modulation of gene expression. To understand the systemic effect of the fungal symbiosis on the tomato fruit, we used RNA-Seq to perform global transcriptome profiling on Moneymaker tomato fruits at the turning ripening stage.
Results
Fruits were collected at 55 days after flowering, from plants colonized with Funneliformis mosseae and from control plants, which were fertilized to avoid responses related to nutrient deficiency. Transcriptome analysis identified 712 genes that are differentially expressed in fruits from mycorrhizal and control plants. Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis of these genes showed 81 overrepresented functional GO classes. Up-regulated GO classes include photosynthesis, stress response, transport, amino acid synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism functions, suggesting a general impact of fungal symbiosis on primary metabolisms and, particularly, on mineral nutrition. Down-regulated GO classes include cell wall, metabolism and ethylene response pathways. Quantitative RT-PCR validated the RNA-Seq results for 12 genes out of 14 when tested at three fruit ripening stages, mature green, breaker and turning. Quantification of fruit nutraceutical and mineral contents produced values consistent with the expression changes observed by RNA-Seq analysis.
Conclusions
This RNA-Seq profiling produced a novel data set that explores the intersection of mycorrhization and fruit development. We found that the fruits of mycorrhizal plants show two transcriptomic “signatures”: genes characteristic of a climacteric fleshy fruit, and genes characteristic of mycorrhizal status, like phosphate and sulphate transporters. Moreover, mycorrhizal plants under low nutrient conditions produce fruits with a nutrient content similar to those from non-mycorrhizal plants under high nutrient conditions, indicating that AM fungi can help replace exogenous fertilizer for fruit crops.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-221
PMCID: PMC3997964  PMID: 24655934
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; Tomato; RNA sequencing; Fruit gene expression; Systemic effects
4.  Cell wall remodeling in mycorrhizal symbiosis: a way towards biotrophism 
Cell walls are deeply involved in the molecular talk between partners during plant and microbe interactions, and their role in mycorrhizae, i.e., the widespread symbiotic associations established between plant roots and soil fungi, has been investigated extensively. All mycorrhizal interactions achieve full symbiotic functionality through the development of an extensive contact surface between the plant and fungal cells, where signals and nutrients are exchanged. The exchange of molecules between the fungal and the plant cytoplasm takes place both through their plasma membranes and their cell walls; a functional compartment, known as the symbiotic interface, is thus defined. Among all the symbiotic interfaces, the complex intracellular interface of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis has received a great deal of attention since its first description. Here, in fact, the host plasma membrane invaginates and proliferates around all the developing intracellular fungal structures, and cell wall material is laid down between this membrane and the fungal cell surface. By contrast, in ectomycorrhizae (ECM), where the fungus grows outside and between the root cells, plant and fungal cell walls are always in direct contact and form the interface between the two partners. The organization and composition of cell walls within the interface compartment is a topic that has attracted widespread attention, both in ecto- and endomycorrhizae. The aim of this review is to provide a general overview of the current knowledge on this topic by integrating morphological observations, which have illustrated cell wall features during mycorrhizal interactions, with the current data produced by genomic and transcriptomic approaches.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00237
PMCID: PMC4044974  PMID: 24926297
cell wall; mycorrhizal interactions; fungal genomes; interface; gene expression
5.  Automated analysis of calcium spiking profiles with CaSA software: two case studies from root-microbe symbioses 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:224.
Background
Repeated oscillations in intracellular calcium (Ca2+) concentration, known as Ca2+ spiking signals, have been described in plants for a limited number of cellular responses to biotic or abiotic stimuli and most notably the common symbiotic signaling pathway (CSSP) which mediates the recognition by their plant hosts of two endosymbiotic microbes, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and nitrogen fixing rhizobia. The detailed analysis of the complexity and variability of the Ca2+ spiking patterns which have been revealed in recent studies requires both extensive datasets and sophisticated statistical tools.
Results
As a contribution, we have developed automated Ca2+ spiking analysis (CaSA) software that performs i) automated peak detection, ii) statistical analyses based on the detected peaks, iii) autocorrelation analysis of peak-to-peak intervals to highlight major traits in the spiking pattern.
We have evaluated CaSA in two experimental studies. In the first, CaSA highlighted unpredicted differences in the spiking patterns induced in Medicago truncatula root epidermal cells by exudates of the AM fungus Gigaspora margarita as a function of the phosphate concentration in the growth medium of both host and fungus. In the second study we compared the spiking patterns triggered by either AM fungal or rhizobial symbiotic signals. CaSA revealed the existence of different patterns in signal periodicity, which are thought to contribute to the so-called Ca2+ signature.
Conclusions
We therefore propose CaSA as a useful tool for characterizing oscillatory biological phenomena such as Ca2+ spiking.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-224
PMCID: PMC3880239  PMID: 24369773
Arbuscular mycorrhiza; Calcium signaling; Medicago truncatula; Nitrogen fixation; Phosphate; Plant-microbe interactions; Symbiosis; Automated data analysis
6.  The Lotus japonicus MAMI gene links root development, arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis and phosphate availability 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(3):e23414.
The arbuscular mycorrhizal-induced LjMAMI gene is phylogenetically related to GARP transcription factors involved in Pi-starvation responses such as AtPHR1. The gene is strongly upregulated in arbusculated cells from mycorrhizal plants and in root meristems, irrespectively of the fungal presence. A further expression analysis revealed a similar expression pattern for LjPT4, considered a marker gene for mycorrhizal functionality. Here we show that the LjPT4 promoter contains two conserved cis-acting elements typically found in Pi-starvation induced Pi transporters. One of these is strongly related to the binding site of AtPHR1, suggesting a direct regulation of LjPT4 by LjMAMI. The expression of both genes in non-mycorrhizal tissues leads to the hypothesis that these symbiosis-inducible genes are also involved in Pi starvation responses in root meristems in an AM-independent manner.
doi:10.4161/psb.23414
PMCID: PMC3676508  PMID: 23333966
putative-transcription factor; phosphate transporter; root architecture; symbiosis
7.  Truffle Brûlés Have an Impact on the Diversity of Soil Bacterial Communities 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61945.
Background
The development of Tuber melanosporum mycorrhizal symbiosis is associated with the production of an area devoid of vegetation (commonly referred to by the French word ‘brûlé’) around the symbiotic plants and where the fruiting bodies of T. melanosporum are usually collected. The extent of the ecological impact of such an area is still being discovered. While the relationship between T. melanosporum and the other fungi present in the brûlé has been assessed, no data are available on the relationship between this fungus and the bacteria inhabiting the brûlé.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used DGGE and DNA microarrays of 16S rRNA gene fragments to compare the bacterial and archaeal communities inside and outside of truffle brûlés. Soil samples were collected in 2008 from four productive T. melanosporum/Quercus pubescens truffle-grounds located in Cahors, France, showing characteristic truffle brûlé. All the samples were analyzed by DGGE and one truffle-ground was analyzed also using phylogenetic microarrays. DGGE profiles showed differences in the bacterial community composition, and the microarrays revealed a few differences in relative richness between the brûlé interior and exterior zones, as well as differences in the relative abundance of several taxa.
Conclusions/Significance
The different signal intensities we have measured for members of bacteria and archaea inside versus outside the brûlé are the first demonstration, to our knowledge, that not only fungal communities, but also other microorganisms are affected by T. melanosporum. Firmicutes (e.g., Bacillus), several genera of Actinobacteria, and a few Cyanobacteria had greater representation inside the brûlé compared with outside, whereas Pseudomonas and several genera within the class Flavobacteriaceae had higher relative abundances outside the brûlé. The findings from this study may contribute to future searches for microbial bio-indicators of brûlés.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061945
PMCID: PMC3640031  PMID: 23667413
8.  The genome of the obligate endobacterium of an AM fungus reveals an interphylum network of nutritional interactions 
The ISME Journal  2011;6(1):136-145.
As obligate symbionts of most land plants, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have a crucial role in ecosystems, but to date, in the absence of genomic data, their adaptive biology remains elusive. In addition, endobacteria are found in their cytoplasm, the role of which is unknown. In order to investigate the function of the Gram-negative Candidatus Glomeribacter gigasporarum, an endobacterium of the AMF Gigaspora margarita, we sequenced its genome, leading to an ∼1.72-Mb assembly. Phylogenetic analyses placed Ca. G. gigasporarum in the Burkholderiaceae whereas metabolic network analyses clustered it with insect endobacteria. This positioning of Ca. G. gigasporarum among different bacterial classes reveals that it has undergone convergent evolution to adapt itself to intracellular lifestyle. The genome annotation of this mycorrhizal-fungal endobacterium has revealed an unexpected genetic mosaic where typical determinants of symbiotic, pathogenic and free-living bacteria are integrated in a reduced genome. Ca. G. gigasporarum is an aerobic microbe that depends on its host for carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen supply; it also expresses type II and type III secretion systems and synthesizes vitamin B12, antibiotics- and toxin-resistance molecules, which may contribute to the fungal host's ecological fitness. Ca. G. gigasporarum has an extreme dependence on its host for nutrients and energy, whereas the fungal host is itself an obligate biotroph that relies on a photosynthetic plant. Our work represents the first step towards unraveling a complex network of interphylum interactions, which is expected to have a previously unrecognized ecological impact.
doi:10.1038/ismej.2011.110
PMCID: PMC3246228  PMID: 21866182
arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; bacterial genome; differential gene expression; endobacterium; metabolic profiling; symbiosis
9.  Two putative-aquaporin genes are differentially expressed during arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis in Lotus japonicus 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:186.
Background
Arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) are widespread symbioses that provide great advantages to the plant, improving its nutritional status and allowing the fungus to complete its life cycle. Nevertheless, molecular mechanisms that lead to the development of AM symbiosis are not yet fully deciphered. Here, we have focused on two putative aquaporin genes, LjNIP1 and LjXIP1, which resulted to be upregulated in a transcriptomic analysis performed on mycorrhizal roots of Lotus japonicus.
Results
A phylogenetic analysis has shown that the two putative aquaporins belong to different functional families: NIPs and XIPs. Transcriptomic experiments have shown the independence of their expression from their nutritional status but also a close correlation with mycorrhizal and rhizobial interaction. Further transcript quantification has revealed a good correlation between the expression of one of them, LjNIP1, and LjPT4, the phosphate transporter which is considered a marker gene for mycorrhizal functionality. By using laser microdissection, we have demonstrated that one of the two genes, LjNIP1, is expressed exclusively in arbuscule-containing cells. LjNIP1, in agreement with its putative role as an aquaporin, is capable of transferring water when expressed in yeast protoplasts. Confocal analysis have demonstrated that eGFP-LjNIP1, under its endogenous promoter, accumulates in the inner membrane system of arbusculated cells.
Conclusions
Overall, the results have shown different functionality and expression specificity of two mycorrhiza-inducible aquaporins in L. japonicus. One of them, LjNIP1 can be considered a novel molecular marker of mycorrhizal status at different developmental stages of the arbuscule. At the same time, LjXIP1 results to be the first XIP family aquaporin to be transcriptionally regulated during symbiosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-186
PMCID: PMC3533510  PMID: 23046713
Arbusculated cells; Legumes; Aquaporin; Symbiosis; XIP; NIP; Mycorrhizal fungi; Lotus japonicus
10.  The computational-based structure of Dwarf14 provides evidence for its role as potential strigolactone receptor in plants 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:307.
Background
Strigolactones (SLs) are recently identified plant hormones modulating root and shoot branching. Besides their endogenous role within the producing organism, SLs are also key molecules in the communication of plants with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and parasitic weeds. In fact SLs are exuded into the rhizosphere where they act as a host-derived signal, stimulating the germination of the seeds of parasitic plants which would not survive in the absence of a host root to colonize. Similarly, their perception by AM fungi causes extensive hyphal branching; this is a prerequisite for effective root colonization, since it increases the number of potential contact points with the host surface. In spite of the crucial and multifaceted biological role of SLs, there is no information on the receptor(s) which bind(s) such active molecules, neither in the producing plants, or in parasitic weeds or AM fungi.
Results
In this work, we applied homology modelling techniques to investigate the structure of the protein encoded by the gene Dwarf14, which was first identified in rice as conferring SLs insensitivity when mutated. The best sequence identity was with bacterial RsbQ. Both proteins belong to the superfamily of alpha/beta-fold hydrolases, some members of which play a role in the metabolism or signalling of plant hormones. The Dwarf14 (D14) structure was refined by means of molecular dynamics simulations. In order to support the hypothesis that D14 could be an endogenous SLs receptor, we performed docking experiments with a natural ligand.
Conclusions
It is suggested that D14 interacts with and thereby may act as a receptor for SLs in plants. This hypothesis offers a starting point to experimentally study the mechanism of its activity in vivo by means of structural, molecular and genetic approaches. Lastly, knowledge of the putative receptor structure will boost the research on analogues of the natural substrates as required for agricultural applications.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-307
PMCID: PMC3436726  PMID: 22713366
11.  Unravelling Soil Fungal Communities from Different Mediterranean Land-Use Backgrounds 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34847.
Background
Fungi strongly influence ecosystem structure and functioning, playing a key role in many ecological services as decomposers, plant mutualists and pathogens. The Mediterranean area is a biodiversity hotspot that is increasingly threatened by intense land use. Therefore, to achieve a balance between conservation and human development, a better understanding of the impact of land use on the underlying fungal communities is needed.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used parallel pyrosequencing of the nuclear ribosomal ITS regions to characterize the fungal communities in five soils subjected to different anthropogenic impact in a typical Mediterranean landscape: a natural cork-oak forest, a pasture, a managed meadow, and two vineyards. Marked differences in the distribution of taxon assemblages among the different sites and communities were found. Data analyses consistently indicated a sharp distinction of the fungal community of the cork oak forest soil from those described in the other soils. Each soil showed features of the fungal assemblages retrieved which can be easily related to the above-ground settings: ectomycorrhizal phylotypes were numerous in natural sites covered by trees, but were nearly completely missing from the anthropogenic and grass-covered sites; similarly, coprophilous fungi were common in grazed sites.
Conclusions/Significance
Data suggest that investigation on the below-ground fungal community may provide useful elements on the above-ground features such as vegetation coverage and agronomic procedures, allowing to assess the cost of anthropogenic land use to hidden diversity in soil. Datasets provided in this study may contribute to future searches for fungal bio-indicators as biodiversity markers of a specific site or a land-use degree.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034847
PMCID: PMC3335027  PMID: 22536336
12.  The Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis: Origin and Evolution of a Beneficial Plant Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002600.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002600
PMCID: PMC3330121  PMID: 22532798
13.  The arbuscular mycorrhizal status has an impact on the transcriptome profile and amino acid composition of tomato fruit 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:44.
Background
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is the most widespread association between plant roots and fungi in natural and agricultural ecosystems. This work investigated the influence of mycorrhization on the economically relevant part of the tomato plant, by analyzing its impact on the physiology of the fruit. To this aim, a combination of phenological observations, transcriptomics (Microarrays and qRT-PCR) and biochemical analyses was used to unravel the changes that occur on fruits from Micro-Tom tomato plants colonized by the AM fungus Glomus mosseae.
Results
Mycorrhization accelerated the flowering and fruit development and increased the fruit yield. Eleven transcripts were differentially regulated in the fruit upon mycorrhization, and the mycorrhiza-responsive genes resulted to be involved in nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism as well as in regulation and signal transduction. Mycorrhization has increased the amino acid abundance in the fruit from mycorrhizal plants, with glutamine and asparagine being the most responsive amino acids.
Conclusions
The obtained results offer novel data on the systemic changes that are induced by the establishment of AM symbiosis in the plant, and confirm the work hypothesis that AM fungi may extend their influence from the root to the fruit.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-44
PMCID: PMC3362744  PMID: 22452950
14.  A rice calcium-dependent protein kinase is expressed in cortical root cells during the presymbiotic phase of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:90.
Background
The arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis consists of a mutualistic relationship between soil fungi and roots of most plant species. This association provides the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus with sugars while the fungus improves the uptake of water and mineral nutrients in the host plant. Then, the establishment of the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis requires the fine tuning of host gene expression for recognition and accommodation of the fungal symbiont. In plants, calcium plays a key role as second messenger during developmental processes and responses to environmental stimuli. Even though calcium transients are known to occur in host cells during the AM symbiosis, the decoding of the calcium signal and the molecular events downstream are only poorly understood.
Results
The expression of seventeen Calcium-dependent Protein Kinase (CPK) genes representative of the four distinct phylogenetic groups of rice CPKs was monitored during the presymbiotic phase of the AM symbiosis. Among them, OsCPK18 and OsCPK4, were found to be transcriptionally activated in response to inoculation with the AM fungus Glomus intraradices. OsCPK18 and OsCPK4 gene expression was also up-regulated by fungal-produced diffusible molecules. Laser microdissection revealed expression of OsCPK18 in cortical cells, and not in epidermal cells of G. intraradices-inoculated rice roots, suggesting a preferential role of this gene in the root cortex. Moreover, a plasma membrane localization of OsCPK18 was observed by transient expression assays of green fluorescent protein-tagged OsCPK18 in onion epidermal cells. We also show that the myristoylation site of the OsCPK18 N-terminus is required for plasma membrane targeting.
Conclusion
The rapid activation of OsCPK18 expression in response to AM inoculation, its expression being also induced by fungal-secreted signals, together with the observed plasma membrane localization of OsCPK18, points to a role for OsCPK18 in perception of the AM fungus. The OsCPK18 gene might be considered as a marker for the presymbiotic phase of the symbiotic process. These findings provide a better understanding of the signaling mechanisms operating during the AM symbiosis and will greatly facilitate their molecular dissection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-90
PMCID: PMC3125349  PMID: 21595879
15.  Ectomycorrhizal Inocybe species associate with the mycoheterotrophic orchid Epipogium aphyllum but not its asexual propagules 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(3):595-610.
Background and Aims
Epipogium aphyllum is a Eurasian achlorophyllous, mycoheterotrophic forest orchid. Due to its rarity, it is often protected, and its biology is poorly known. The identity and pattern of colonization of fungal associates providing carbon to this orchid have not been studied previously.
Methods
Using samples from 34 individuals from 18 populations in Japan, Russia and France, the following were investigated: (a) colonization patterns of fungal associates of E. aphyllum by microscopy; (b) their identity by PCR amplification of nuclear ribosomal ITS carried out on rhizome fragments and hyphal pelotons.
Results and Conclusions
Microscopic investigations revealed that thick rhizomes were densely colonized by fungi bearing clamp-connections and dolipores, i.e. basidiomycetes. Molecular analysis identified Inocybe species as exclusive symbionts of 75 % of the plants investigated and, more rarely, other basidiomycetes (Hebeloma, Xerocomus, Lactarius, Thelephora species). Additionally, ascomycetes, probably endophytes or parasites, were sometimes present. Although E. aphyllum associates with diverse species from Inocybe subgenera Mallocybe and Inocybe sensu stricto, no evidence for cryptic speciation in E. aphyllum was found. Since basidiomycetes colonizing the orchid are ectomycorrhizal, surrounding trees are probably the ultimate carbon source. Accordingly, in one population, ectomycorrhizae sampled around an individual orchid revealed the same fungus on 11·2 % of tree roots investigated. Conversely, long, thin stolons bearing bulbils indicated active asexual multiplication, but these propagules were not colonized by fungi. These findings are discussed in the framework of ecology and evolution of mycoheterotrophy.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcn269
PMCID: PMC2720653  PMID: 19155220
Asexual multiplication; ectomycorrhizae; Epipogium; Inocybe; mycoheterotrophy; orchid mycorrhizae; specificity; symbiont transmission
16.  Unique arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities uncovered in date palm plantations and surrounding desert habitats of Southern Arabia 
Mycorrhiza  2010;21(3):195-209.
The main objective of this study was to shed light on the previously unknown arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) communities in Southern Arabia. We explored AMF communities in two date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) plantations and the natural vegetation of their surrounding arid habitats. The plantations were managed traditionally in an oasis and according to conventional guidelines at an experimental station. Based on spore morphotyping, the AMF communities under the date palms appeared to be quite diverse at both plantations and more similar to each other than to the communities under the ruderal plant, Polygala erioptera, growing at the experimental station on the dry strip between the palm trees, and to the communities uncovered under the native vegetation (Zygophyllum hamiense, Salvadora persica, Prosopis cineraria, inter-plant area) of adjacent undisturbed arid habitat. AMF spore abundance and species richness were higher under date palms than under the ruderal and native plants. Sampling in a remote sand dune area under Heliotropium kotschyi yielded only two AMF morphospecies and only after trap culturing. Overall, 25 AMF morphospecies were detected encompassing all study habitats. Eighteen belonged to the genus Glomus including four undescribed species. Glomus sinuosum, a species typically found in undisturbed habitats, was the most frequently occurring morphospecies under the date palms. Using molecular tools, it was also found as a phylogenetic taxon associated with date palm roots. These roots were associated with nine phylogenetic taxa, among them eight from Glomus group A, but the majority could not be assigned to known morphospecies or to environmental sequences in public databases. Some phylogenetic taxa seemed to be site specific. Despite the use of group-specific primers and efficient trapping systems with a bait plant consortium, surprisingly, two of the globally most frequently found species, Glomus intraradices and Glomus mosseae, were not detected neither as phylogenetic taxa in the date palm roots nor as spores under the date palms, the intermediate ruderal plant, or the surrounding natural vegetation. The results highlight the uniqueness of AMF communities inhabiting these diverse habitats exposed to the harsh climatic conditions of Southern Arabia.
doi:10.1007/s00572-010-0323-5
PMCID: PMC3058386  PMID: 20571833
Date palm; Arbuscular mycorrhiza; Biodiversity; Natural vegetation; Dry land; Desert; Oasis; Southern Arabia
17.  Pre-Penetration Apparatus Formation During AM Infection is Associated With a Specific Transcriptome Response in Epidermal Cells 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2007;2(6):533-535.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations have strikingly constant structural and functional features, irrespectively of the organisms involved. This suggests the existence of common genetic and molecular determinants. one of the most important characteristics of AMs is the coating of intracellular hyphae by a proliferation of the plant plasma membrane, which always segregates the fungus in an apoplastic interface. This process of intracellular accommodation causes a dramatic reorganization in the host cell cytoplasm, which reaches its peak with the development of the so-called prepenetration apparatus (PPA), a specialised aggregation of organelles described in epidermal cells and predicting fungal development within the cell lumen. We have recently correlated PPA development with the significant regulation of 15 Medicago truncatula genes. Among these, a nodulin-like and an expansin-like sequence are good candidates as molecular markers of epidermal cell responses to AM contact. our results also suggest a novel role for the kinase DMI3 in enhancing the upregulation of these two genes and downregulating defence-related genes such as the Avr9/Cf-9 rapidly elicited protein 264. We here comment on these recent findings and their possible outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2634361  PMID: 19704551
arbuscular mycorrhiza; colonization process; prepenetration apparatus; epidermal cells; transcriptome analysis
18.  Identification of Internal Transcribed Spacer Sequence Motifs in Truffles: a First Step toward Their DNA Bar Coding▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(16):5320-5330.
This work presents DNA sequence motifs from the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the nuclear rRNA repeat unit which are useful for the identification of five European and Asiatic truffles (Tuber magnatum, T. melanosporum, T. indicum, T. aestivum, and T. mesentericum). Truffles are edible mycorrhizal ascomycetes that show similar morphological characteristics but that have distinct organoleptic and economic values. A total of 36 out of 46 ITS1 or ITS2 sequence motifs have allowed an accurate in silico distinction of the five truffles to be made (i.e., by pattern matching and/or BLAST analysis on downloaded GenBank sequences and directly against GenBank databases). The motifs considered the intraspecific genetic variability of each species, including rare haplotypes, and assigned their respective species from either the ascocarps or ectomycorrhizas. The data indicate that short ITS1 or ITS2 motifs (≤50 bp in size) can be considered promising tools for truffle species identification. A dot blot hybridization analysis of T. magnatum and T. melanosporum compared with other close relatives or distant lineages allowed at least one highly specific motif to be identified for each species. These results were confirmed in a blind test which included new field isolates. The current work has provided a reliable new tool for a truffle oligonucleotide bar code and identification in ecological and evolutionary studies.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00530-07
PMCID: PMC1950968  PMID: 17601808
19.  A dehydration-inducible gene in the truffle Tuber borchii identifies a novel group of dehydrins 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:39.
Background
The expressed sequence tag M6G10 was originally isolated from a screening for differentially expressed transcripts during the reproductive stage of the white truffle Tuber borchii. mRNA levels for M6G10 increased dramatically during fruiting body maturation compared to the vegetative mycelial stage.
Results
Bioinformatics tools, phylogenetic analysis and expression studies were used to support the hypothesis that this sequence, named TbDHN1, is the first dehydrin (DHN)-like coding gene isolated in fungi. Homologs of this gene, all defined as "coding for hypothetical proteins" in public databases, were exclusively found in ascomycetous fungi and in plants. Although complete (or almost complete) fungal genomes and EST collections of some Basidiomycota and Glomeromycota are already available, DHN-like proteins appear to be represented only in Ascomycota. A new and previously uncharacterized conserved signature pattern was identified and proposed to Uniprot database as the main distinguishing feature of this new group of DHNs. Expression studies provide experimental evidence of a transcript induction of TbDHN1 during cellular dehydration.
Conclusion
Expression pattern and sequence similarities to known plant DHNs indicate that TbDHN1 is the first characterized DHN-like protein in fungi. The high similarity of TbDHN1 with homolog coding sequences implies the existence of a novel fungal/plant group of LEA Class II proteins characterized by a previously undescribed signature pattern.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-39
PMCID: PMC1550403  PMID: 16512918
20.  Transcript Profiling Reveals Novel Marker Genes Involved in Fruiting Body Formation in Tuber borchii† 
Eukaryotic Cell  2005;4(9):1599-1602.
cDNA arrays were used to explore mechanisms controlling fruiting body development in the truffle Tuber borchii. Differences in gene expression were higher between reproductive and vegetative stage than between two stages of fruiting body maturation. We suggest hypotheses about the importance of various physiological processes during the development of fruiting bodies.
doi:10.1128/EC.4.9.1599-1602.2005
PMCID: PMC1214200  PMID: 16151254
22.  Isolation and Characterization of Differentially Expressed Genes in the Mycelium and Fruit Body of Tuber borchii 
The transition from vegetative mycelium to fruit body in truffles requires differentiation processes which lead to edible fruit bodies (ascomata) consisting of different cell and tissue types. The identification of genes differentially expressed during these developmental processes can contribute greatly to a better understanding of truffle morphogenesis. A cDNA library was constructed from vegetative mycelium RNAs of the white truffle Tuber borchii, and 214 cDNAs were sequenced. Up to 58% of the expressed sequence tags corresponded to known genes. The majority of the identified sequences represented housekeeping proteins, i.e., proteins involved in gene or protein expression, cell wall formation, primary and secondary metabolism, and signaling pathways. We screened 171 arrayed cDNAs by using cDNA probes constructed from mRNAs of vegetative mycelium and ascomata to identify fruit body-regulated genes. Comparisons of signals from vegetative mycelium and fruit bodies bearing 15 or 70% mature spores revealed significant differences in the expression levels for up to 33% of the investigated genes. The expression levels for six highly regulated genes were confirmed by RNA blot analyses. The expression of glutamine synthetase, 5-aminolevulinic acid synthetase, isocitrate lyase, thioredoxin, glucan 1,3-β-glucosidase, and UDP-glucose:sterol glucosyl transferase was highly up-regulated, suggesting that amino acid biosynthesis, the glyoxylate cycle pathway, and cell wall synthesis are strikingly altered during morphogenesis.
doi:10.1128/AEM.68.9.4574-4582.2002
PMCID: PMC124117  PMID: 12200316
23.  Nitrogen Fixation Genes in an Endosymbiotic Burkholderia Strain 
In this paper we report the identification and characterization of a DNA region containing putative nif genes and belonging to a Burkholderia endosymbiont of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Gigaspora margarita. A genomic library of total DNA extracted from the fungal spores was also representative of the bacterial genome and was used to investigate the prokaryotic genome. Screening of the library with Azospirillum brasilense nifHDK genes as the prokaryotic probes led to the identification of a 6,413-bp region. Analysis revealed three open reading frames encoding putative proteins with a very high degree of sequence similarity with the two subunits (NifD and NifK) of the component I and with component II (NifH) of nitrogenase from different diazotrophs. The three genes were arranged in an operon similar to that shown by most archaeal and bacterial diazotrophs. PCR experiments with primers designed on the Burkholderia nifHDK genes and Southern blot analysis demonstrate that they actually belong to the genome of the G. margarita endosymbiont. They offer, therefore, the first sequence for the nif operon described for Burkholderia. Reverse transcriptase PCR experiments with primers designed on the Burkholderia nifH and nifD genes and performed on total RNA extracted from spores demonstrate that the gene expression was limited to the germination phase. A phylogenetic analysis performed on the available nifK sequences placed the endosymbiotic Burkholderia close to A. brasilense.
doi:10.1128/AEM.67.2.725-732.2001
PMCID: PMC92641  PMID: 11157237
24.  Detection and Identification of Bacterial Endosymbionts in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Belonging to the Family Gigasporaceae 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2000;66(10):4503-4509.
Intracellular bacteria have been found previously in one isolate of the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus Gigaspora margarita BEG 34. In this study, we extended our investigation to 11 fungal isolates obtained from different geographic areas and belonging to six different species of the family Gigasporaceae. With the exception of Gigaspora rosea, isolates of all of the AM species harbored bacteria, and their DNA could be PCR amplified with universal bacterial primers. Primers specific for the endosymbiotic bacteria of BEG 34 could also amplify spore DNA from four species. These specific primers were successfully used as probes for in situ hybridization of endobacteria in G. margarita spores. Neighbor-joining analysis of the 16S ribosomal DNA sequences obtained from isolates of Scutellospora persica, Scutellospora castanea, and G. margarita revealed a single, strongly supported branch nested in the genus Burkholderia.
PMCID: PMC92331  PMID: 11010905

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