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Plant J. 2005 Oct;44(2):195-207.

Nod factors and a diffusible factor from arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi stimulate lateral root formation in Medicago truncatula via the DMI1/DMI2 signalling pathway.

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LIPM UMR 2594/441 CNRS/INRA - BP 52627, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan Cedex, France.


Legumes form two different types of intracellular root symbioses, with fungi and bacteria, resulting in arbuscular mycorrhiza and nitrogen-fixing nodules, respectively. Rhizobial signalling molecules, called Nod factors, play a key role in establishing the rhizobium-legume association and genes have been identified in Medicago truncatula that control a Nod factor signalling pathway leading to nodulation. Three of these genes, the so-called DMI1, DMI2 and DMI3 genes, are also required for formation of mycorrhiza, indicating that the symbiotic pathways activated by both the bacterial and the fungal symbionts share common steps. To analyse possible cross-talk between these pathways we have studied the effect of treatment with Nod factors on mycorrhization in M. truncatula. We show that Nod factors increase mycorrhizal colonization and stimulate lateral root formation. The stimulation of lateral root formation by Nod factors requires both the same structural features of Nod factors and the same plant genes (NFP, DMI1, DMI2, DMI3 and NSP1) that are required for other Nod factor-induced symbiotic responses such as early nodulin gene induction and cortical cell division. A diffusible factor from arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi was also found to stimulate lateral root formation, while three root pathogens did not have the same effect. Lateral root formation induced by fungal signal(s) was found to require the DMI1 and DMI2 genes, but not DMI3. The idea that this diffusible fungal factor might correspond to a previously hypothesized mycorrhizal signal, the 'Myc factor', is discussed.

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