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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2000 Oct;13(10):1109-20.

The Lotus japonicus LjSym4 gene is required for the successful symbiotic infection of root epidermal cells.

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Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale dell'Università and CSMT-CNR, Torino, Italy.


The role of the Lotus japonicus LjSym4 gene during the symbiotic interaction with Mesorhizobium loti and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi was analyzed with two mutant alleles conferring phenotypes of different strength. Ljsym4-1 and Ljsym4-2 mutants do not form nodules with M. loti. Normal root hair curling and infection threads are not observed, while a nodC-dependent deformation of root hair tips indicates that nodulation factors are still perceived by Ljsym4 mutants. Fungal infection attempts on the mutants generally abort within the epidermis, but Ljsym4-1 mutants allow rare, successful, infection events, leading to delayed arbuscule formation. On roots of mutants homozygous for the Ljsym4-2 allele, arbuscule formation was never observed upon inoculation with either of the two AM fungi, Glomus intraradices or Gigaspora margarita. The strategy of epidermal penetration by G. margarita was identical for Ljsym4-2 mutants and the parental line, with appressoria, hyphae growing between two epidermal cells, penetration of epidermal cells through their anticlinal wall. These observations define a novel, genetically controlled step in AM colonization. Although rhizobia penetrate the tip of root hairs and AM fungi access an entry site near the base of epidermal cells, the LjSym4 gene is necessary for the appropriate response of this cell type to both microsymbionts. We propose that LjSym4 is required for the initiation or coordinated expression of the host plant cell's accommodation program, allowing the passage of both microsymbionts through the epidermis layer.

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