The formation of this symbiosis is a strictly regulated process that the plant activates in low nutrient levels. The roots release the hormone strigolactone, which is detected by the fungi. The fungal hyphae grow towards the roots, penetrate the epidermis and isolated passage cells, and enter the root cortex. There, the fungal hyphae form tiny branch-like networks, which resemble little trees (arbusculum) and gave the symbiotic relationship its name: vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis.
Until about five years ago, the hormone strigolactone was known to induce and entice parasitic plant seeds in the soil to germinate. At that stage, no-one understood why plants produced this substance, which is harmful to them. Only when the new role of strigolactone in mycorrhiza formation was discovered did it become clear that the attraction of the parasites was a harmful side effect of the symbiosis.
The researchers observed that PhPDR1 is expressed more highly in a low nutrient content in order to attract more symbiotic fungi, which then supply more nutrients. But there are also plants like the model plant Arabidopsis (mouse-ear cress) that do not form any mycorrhiza. If the researchers added PhPDR1, however, the Arabidopsis roots transported strigolactones again.Improvements in yield and weed control
Beat Müller | idw
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