The sugar porter gene family of Laccaria bicolor: function in ectomycorrhizal symbiosis and soil-growing hyphae
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- • Formation of ectomycorrhizas, a symbiosis with fine roots of woody plants, is one way for soil fungi to overcome carbohydrate limitation in forest ecosystems.
- • Fifteen potential hexose transporter proteins, of which 10 group within three clusters, are encoded in the genome of the ectomycorrhizal model fungus Laccaria bicolor. For 14 of them, transcripts were detectable.
- • When grown in liquid culture, carbon starvation resulted in at least twofold higher transcript abundances for seven genes. Temporarily elevated transcript abundance after sugar addition was observed for three genes. Compared with the extraradical mycelium, ectomycorrhiza formation resulted in a strongly enhanced expression of six genes, of which four revealed their highest observed transcript abundances in symbiosis. A function as hexose importer was proven for three of them. Only three genes, of which just one was expressed at a considerable level, revealed a reduced transcript content in mycorrhizas.
- • From gene expression patterns and import kinetics, the L. bicolor hexose transporters could be divided into two groups: those responsible for uptake of carbohydrates by soil-growing hyphae, for improved carbon nutrition, and to reduce nutrient uptake competition by other soil microorganisms; and those responsible for efficient hexose uptake at the plant–fungus interface.