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Plant J. 2000 Mar;21(6):571-8.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi induce the non-mevalonate methylerythritol phosphate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis correlated with accumulation of the 'yellow pigment' and other apocarotenoids.

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Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie, Abteilung Sekundärstoffwechsel, Weinberg 3, D-06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.


Plants and certain bacteria use a non-mevalonate alternative route for the biosynthesis of many isoprenoids, including carotenoids. This route has been discovered only recently and has been designated the deoxyxylulose phosphate pathway or methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. We report here that colonisation of roots from wheat, maize, rice and barley by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal symbiont Glomus intraradices involves strong induction of transcript levels of two of the pivotal enzymes of the MEP pathway, 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS) and 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR). This induction is temporarily and spatially correlated with specific and concomitant accumulation of two classes of apocarotenoids, namely glycosylated C13 cyclohexenone derivatives and mycorradicin (C14) conjugates, the latter being a major component of the long-known 'yellow pigment'. A total of six cyclohexenone derivatives were characterised from mycorrhizal wheat and maize roots. Furthermore, the acyclic structure of mycorradicin described previously only from maize has been identified from mycorrhizal wheat roots after alkaline treatment of an 'apocarotenoid complex' of yellow root constituents. We propose a hypothetical scheme for biogenesis of both types of apocarotenoids from a common oxocarotenoid (xanthophyll) precursor. This is the first report demonstrating (i) that the plastidic MEP pathway is active in plant roots and (ii) that it can be induced by a fungus.

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