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Plant Cell. 2003 Sep;15(9):2106-23.

Transcript profiling coupled with spatial expression analyses reveals genes involved in distinct developmental stages of an arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis.

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Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The formation of symbiotic associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi is a phenomenon common to the majority of vascular flowering plants. Here, we used cDNA arrays to examine transcript profiles in Medicago truncatula roots during the development of an AM symbiosis with Glomus versiforme and during growth under differing phosphorus nutrient regimes. Three percent of the genes examined showed significant changes in transcript levels during the development of the symbiosis. Most genes showing increased transcript levels in mycorrhizal roots showed no changes in response to high phosphorus, suggesting that alterations in transcript levels during symbiosis were a consequence of the AM fungus rather than a secondary effect of improved phosphorus nutrition. Among the mycorrhiza-induced genes, two distinct temporal expression patterns were evident. Members of one group showed an increase in transcripts during the initial period of contact between the symbionts and a subsequent decrease as the symbiosis developed. Defense- and stress-response genes were a significant component of this group. Genes in the second group showed a sustained increase in transcript levels that correlated with the colonization of the root system. The latter group contained a significant proportion of new genes similar to components of signal transduction pathways, suggesting that novel signaling pathways are activated during the development of the symbiosis. Analysis of the spatial expression patterns of two mycorrhiza-induced genes revealed distinct expression patterns consistent with the hypothesis that gene expression in mycorrhizal roots is signaled by both cell-autonomous and cell-nonautonomous signals.

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