Insights into the complex role of GRAS transcription factors in the arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis

authored by
Rico M. Hartmann, Sieke Schaepe, Daniel Nübel, Arne C. Petersen, Martina Bertolini, Jana Vasilev, Helge Kuester, Natalija Hohnjec

To improve access to limiting nutrients, the vast majority of land plants forms arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbioses with Glomeromycota fungi. We show here that AM-related GRAS transcription factors from different subgroups are upregulated during a time course of mycorrhization. Based on expression studies in mutants defective in arbuscule branching (ram1-1, with a deleted MtRam1 GRAS transcription factor gene) or in the formation of functional arbuscules (pt4-2, mutated in the phosphate transporter gene MtPt4), we demonstrate that the five AM-related GRAS transcription factor genes MtGras1, MtGras4, MtGras6, MtGras7, and MtRad1 can be differentiated by their dependency on MtRAM1 and MtPT4, indicating that the network of AM-related GRAS transcription factors consists of at least two regulatory modules. One module involves the MtRAM1- and MtPT4-independent transcription factor MtGRAS4 that activates MtGras7. Another module is controlled by the MtRAM1- and MtPT4-dependent transcription factor MtGRAS1. Genome-wide expression profiles of mycorrhized MtGras1 knockdown and ram1-1 roots differ substantially, indicating different targets. Although an MtGras1 knockdown reduces transcription of AM-related GRAS transcription factor genes including MtRam1 and MtGras7, MtGras1 overexpression alone is not sufficient to activate MtGras genes. MtGras1 knockdown roots display normal fungal colonization, with a trend towards the formation of smaller arbuscules.

Institute of Plant Genetics
External Organisation(s)
Universita Degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
Scientific reports
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Peer reviewed
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