Laser microdissection and its application to analyze gene expression in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis



Phosphorus is essential for plant growth, and in many soils phosphorus availability limits crop production. Most plants in natural ecosystems obtain phosphorus via a symbiotic partnership with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. While the significance of these associations is apparent, their molecular basis is poorly understood. Consequently, the potential to harness the mycorrhizal symbiosis to improve phosphorus nutrition in agriculture is not realized. Transcript profiling has recently been used to investigate gene expression changes that accompany development of the AM symbiosis. While these approaches have enabled the identification of AM-symbiosis-associated genes, they have generally involved the use of RNA from whole mycorrhizal roots. Laser microdissection techniques allow the dissection and capture of individual cells from a tissue. RNA can then be isolated from these samples and cell-type specific gene expression information can be obtained. This technology has been applied to obtain cells from plants and more recently to study plant–microbe interactions. The latter techniques, particularly those developed for root–microbe interactions, are of relevance to plant-parasitic weed research. Here, laser microdissection, its use in plant biology and in particular plant–microbe interactions are discussed. An overview of the AM symbiosis is then provided, with a focus on recent advances in understanding development of the arbuscule–cortical cell interface. Finally, the recent applications of laser microdissection for analyses of AM symbiosis are discussed. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry