The Medicago truncatula GRAS protein RAD1 supports arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis and Phytophthora palmivora susceptibility.

26 Jan 2018

The roots of most land plants are colonized by symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) fungi. To facilitate this symbiosis, plant genomes encode a set of genes required for microbial perception and accommodation. However, the extent to which infection by filamentous root pathogens also relies on some of these genes remains an open question. Here, we used genome-wide association mapping to identify genes contributing to colonization of Medicago truncatula roots by the pathogenic oomycete Phytophthora palmivora. Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers most significantly associated with plant colonization response were identified upstream of RAD1, which encodes a GRAS transcription regulator first negatively implicated in root nodule symbiosis and recently identified as a positive regulator of AM symbiosis. RAD1 transcript levels are up-regulated both in response to AM fungus and, to a lower extent, in infected tissues by P. palmivora where its expression is restricted to root cortex cells proximal to pathogen hyphae. Reverse genetics showed that reduction of RAD1 transcript levels as well as a rad1 mutant are impaired in their full colonization by AM fungi as well as by P. palmivora. Thus, the importance of RAD1 extends beyond symbiotic interactions, suggesting a general involvement in M. truncatula microbe-induced root development and interactions with unrelated beneficial and detrimental filamentous microbes.