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Keywords:

  • arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis;
  • basal land plants;
  • Charales;
  • Charophytes;
  • green lineage;
  • rhizoids;
  • strigolactones (SLs)

Summary

  • The aims of this study were to investigate the appearance of strigolactones in the green lineage and to determine the primitive function of these molecules.
  • We measured the strigolactone content of several isolated liverworts, mosses, charophyte and chlorophyte green algae using a sensitive biological assay and LC-MS/MS analyses. In parallel, sequence comparison of strigolactone-related genes and phylogenetic analyses were performed using available genomic data and newly sequenced expressed sequence tags. The primitive function of strigolactones was determined by exogenous application of the synthetic strigolactone analog, GR24, and by mutant phenotyping.
  • Liverworts, the most basal Embryophytes and Charales, one of the closest green algal relatives to Embryophytes, produce strigolactones, whereas several other species of green algae do not. We showed that GR24 stimulates rhizoid elongation of Charales, liverworts and mosses, and rescues the phenotype of the strigolactone-deficient Ppccd8 mutant of Physcomitrella patens.
  • These findings demonstrate that the first function of strigolactones was not to promote arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. Rather, they suggest that the strigolactones appeared earlier in the streptophyte lineage to control rhizoid elongation. They may have been conserved in basal Embryophytes for this role and then recruited for the stimulation of colonization by glomeromycotan fungi.