Role of plant–fungal nutrient trading and host control in determining the competitive success of ectomycorrhizal fungi

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Date
2017-07-21
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
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Publisher
Springer Nature
Abstract
Multiple ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) compete to colonise the roots of a host plant, but it is not known whether their success is under plant or fungal control, or a combination of both. We assessed whether plants control EMF colonisation by preferentially allocating more carbon to more beneficial partners in terms of nitrogen supply or if other factors drive competitive success. We combined stable isotope labelling and RNA-sequencing approaches to characterise nutrient exchange between the plant host Eucalyptus grandis and three Pisolithus isolates when growing alone and when competing either indirectly (with a physical barrier) or directly. Overall, we found that nitrogen provision to the plant does not explain the amount of carbon that an isolate receives nor the number of roots that it colonises. Differences in nutrient exchange among isolates were related to differences in expression of key fungal and plant nitrogen and carbon transporter genes. When given a choice of partners, the plant was able to limit colonisation by the least cooperative isolate. This was not explained by a reduction in allocated carbon. Instead, our results suggest that partner choice in EMF could operate through the upregulation of defence-related genes against those fungi providing fewer nutrients. © 2017 International Society for Microbial Ecology.
Description
Keywords
Ecology, Nutrients, Fungi, Microorganisms, RNA, Stable isotopes
Citation
Hortal, S., Plett, K. L., Plett, J. M., Cresswell, T., Johansen, M., Pendall, E., & Anderson, I. C. (2017). Role of plant–fungal nutrient trading and host control in determining the competitive success of ectomycorrhizal fungi. The ISME Journal, 11(12), 2666-2676. doi:10.1038/ismej.2017.116
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