Identification of a novel genetically controlled step in mycorrhizal colonization: plant resistance to infection by fungal spores but not extra-radical hyphae


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Vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi infect plants by means of both spores and vegetative hyphae at early stages of symbiosis. Using 2500 M2 fast-neutron-mutagenized seeds of the miniature tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) cultivar, Micro-Tom, we isolated a mutant, M161, that is able to resist colonization in the presence of Glomus intraradices spores. The myc phenotype of the mutant was stable for nine generations, and found to segregate as a single Mendelian recessive locus. The mutant exhibited morphological and growth-pattern characteristics similar to those of wild-type plants. Alterations of light intensity and day/night temperatures did not eliminate the myc characteristic. Resistance to mycorrhizal fungal infection and colonization was also evident following inoculation with the fungi Glomus mosseae and Gigaspora margarita. Normal colonization of M161 was evident when mutant plants were grown together with arbuscular mycorrhizal-inoculated wild-type plants in the same growth medium. During evaluation of the pre-infection stages in the mutant rhizosphere, spore germination and appressoria formation of G. intraradices were lower by 45 and 70%, respectively, than the rates obtained with wild-type plants. These results reveal a novel, genetically controlled step in the arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization process, governed by at least one gene, which significantly reduces key steps in pre-mycorrhizal infection stages.