Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi reduce growth and infect roots of the non-host plant Arabidopsis thaliana

Authors

  • RITA S. L. VEIGA,

    1. Ecological Farming Systems, Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART, Zürich, Switzerland
    2. Plant-microbe Interactions, Institute Environmental Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • ANTONELLA FACCIO,

    1. Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Torino, Istituto Protezione Piante – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Torino, Italy
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  • ANDREA GENRE,

    1. Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Torino, Istituto Protezione Piante – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Torino, Italy
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  • CORNÉ M. J. PIETERSE,

    1. Plant-microbe Interactions, Institute Environmental Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • PAOLA BONFANTE,

    1. Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Torino, Istituto Protezione Piante – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Torino, Italy
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  • MARCEL G. A. van der HEIJDEN

    Corresponding author
    1. Plant-microbe Interactions, Institute Environmental Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    • Ecological Farming Systems, Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART, Zürich, Switzerland
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Correspondence: M. G. A. van der Heijden. e-mail: marcel.vanderheijden@art.admin.ch

Abstract

The arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is widespread throughout the plant kingdom and important for plant nutrition and ecosystem functioning. Nonetheless, most terrestrial ecosystems also contain a considerable number of non-mycorrhizal plants. The interaction of such non-host plants with AM fungi (AMF) is still poorly understood. Here, in three complementary experiments, we investigated whether the non-mycorrhizal plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the model organism for plant molecular biology and genetics, interacts with AMF. We grew A. thaliana alone or together with a mycorrhizal host species (either Trifolium pratense or Lolium multiflorum) in the presence or absence of the AMF Rhizophagus irregularis. Plants were grown in a dual-compartment system with a hyphal mesh separating roots of A. thaliana from roots of the host species, avoiding direct root competition. The host plants in the system ensured the presence of an active AM fungal network. AM fungal networks caused growth depressions in A. thaliana of more than 50% which were not observed in the absence of host plants. Microscopy analyses revealed that R. irregularis supported by a host plant was capable of infecting A. thaliana root tissues (up to 43% of root length colonized), but no arbuscules were observed. The results reveal high susceptibility of A. thaliana to R. irregularis, suggesting that A. thaliana is a suitable model plant to study non-host/AMF interactions and the biological basis of AM incompatibility.

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