Combined phosphate and nitrogen limitation generates a nutrient stress transcriptome favorable for arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis in Medicago truncatula
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- Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is stimulated by phosphorus (P) limitation and contributes to P and nitrogen (N) acquisition. However, the effects of combined P and N limitation on AM formation are largely unknown.
- Medicago truncatula plants were cultivated in the presence or absence of Rhizophagus irregularis (formerly Glomus intraradices) in P-limited (LP), N-limited (LN) or combined P- and N-limited (LPN) conditions, and compared with plants grown in sufficient P and N.
- The highest AM formation was observed in LPN, linked to systemic signaling by the plant nutrient status. Plant free phosphate concentrations were higher in LPN than in LP, as a result of cross-talk between P and N. Transcriptome analyses suggest that LPN induces the activation of NADPH oxidases in roots, concomitant with an altered profile of plant defense genes and a coordinate increase in the expression of genes involved in the methylerythritol phosphate and isoprenoid-derived pathways, including strigolactone synthesis genes.
- Taken together, these results suggest that low P and N fertilization systemically induces a physiological state of plants favorable for AM symbiosis despite their higher P status. Our findings highlight the importance of the plant nutrient status in controlling plant–fungus interaction.