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Plant Cell Physiol. 2013 Oct;54(10):1711-23. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pct114. Epub 2013 Aug 7.

CERBERUS and NSP1 of Lotus japonicus are common symbiosis genes that modulate arbuscular mycorrhiza development.

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Division of Symbiotic Systems, National Institute for Basic Biology, Nishigonaka 38, Myodaiji, Okazaki, Aichi, 444-8585 Japan.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis (AMS) and root nodule symbiosis (RNS) are mutualistic plant-microbe interactions that confer nutritional benefits to both partners. Leguminous plants possess a common genetic system for intracellular symbiosis with AM fungi and with rhizobia. Here we show that CERBERUS and NSP1, which respectively encode an E3 ubiquitin ligase and a GRAS transcriptional regulator and which have previously only been implicated in RNS, are involved in AM fungal infection in Lotus japonicus. Hyphal elongation along the longitudinal axis of the root was reduced in the cerberus mutant, giving rise to a lower colonization level. Knockout of NSP1 decreased the frequency of plants colonized by AM fungi or rhizobia. CERBERUS and NSP1 showed different patterns of expression in response to infection with symbiotic microbes. A low constitutive level of CERBERUS expression was observed in the root and an increased level of NSP1 expression was detected in arbuscule-containing cells. Induction of AM marker gene was triggered in both cerberus and nsp1 mutants by infection with symbiotic microbes; however, the mutants showed a weaker induction of marker gene expression than the wild type, mirroring their lower level of colonization. The common symbiosis genes are believed to act in an early signaling pathway for recognition of symbionts and for triggering early symbiotic responses. Our quantitative analysis of symbiotic phenotypes revealed developmental defects of the novel common symbiosis mutants in both symbioses, which demonstrates that common symbiosis mechanisms also contribute to a range of functions at later or different stages of symbiont infection.


Arbuscular mycorrhiza; Common symbiosis pathway; Lotus japonicus; Root nodule symbiosis; Symbiont infection

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