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A plant-fungi partnership at the origin of terrestrial vegetation

The first plants left aquatic life to live on land 450 million years ago, resulting in the stunning diversity of plant life seen on land today. This significant step required the ancestor of all terrestrial plants developing evolutionary innovations to adapt to the much lower levels of water and nutrients on land, as well as the direct ultraviolet radiation. New collaborative research, involving ENSA scientists, has demonstrated that this was made possible by the mutually beneficial exchange of resources between plants and fungi. Land plants fall into two main categories: vascular plants with stems and roots, and non-vascular plants such as mosses, called bryophytes. Previous studies have shown the existence read more…

Researchers discover how plants distinguish beneficial from harmful microbes

A team of plant research scientists from Aarhus University working on the global ENSA project to sustainably increase yields for small-holder farmers has made major step towards their goal to engineer nitrogen fixation in cereal crops. Legume plants know their friends from their enemies, and now we know how they do it at the molecular level. Plants recognise beneficial microbes and keep harmful ones out, which is important for healthy plants production and global food security. Published today in the journal Science, scientists have now discovered how legumes use small, well-defined motifs in receptor proteins to read molecular signals produced by both pathogenic and symbiotic microbes. These remarkable findings have read more…

Giles Oldroyd elected as a fellow of the Royal Society

Professor Giles Oldroyd has been recognised for his outstanding contributions to science in plant-microbe interactions with his election as a fellow of the Royal Society. Announced today by President of the Royal Society, Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, 51 new Fellows, 10 Foreign Members and one Honorary Fellow have been selected for their outstanding contributions to scientific understanding. Professor Oldroyd is the Russell R Geiger Professor of Crop Science and Director of the Crop Science Centre and Group Leader at the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He leads the ENSA global collaboration studying interactions between plants and beneficial micro-organisms, both bacteria and fungi, that aid in the uptake of nutrients from the read more…

Receptor-mediated chitin perception in legume roots is functionally separable from Nod factor perception

Zoltan Bozsoki, Jeryl Cheng, Feng Feng, Kira Gysel, Maria Vinther, Kasper R. Andersen, Giles Oldroyd, Mickael Blaise, Simona Radutoiu, and Jens Stougaard

The ability of root cells to distinguish mutualistic microbes from pathogens is crucial for plants that allow symbiotic microorganisms to infect and colonize their internal root tissues. Here we show that Lotus japonicus and Medicago truncatula possess very similar LysM pattern-recognition receptors, LjLYS6/MtLYK9 and MtLYR4, enabling root cells to separate the perception of chitin oligomeric microbe-associated molecular patterns from the perception of lipochitin oligosaccharide by the LjNFR1/MtLYK3 and LjNFR5/MtNFP receptors triggering symbiosis. Inactivation of chitin-receptor genes in Ljlys6, Mtlyk9, and Mtlyr4 mutants read more…

Nuclear-Localised Cyclic Nucleotide Gated Channels Mediate Symbiotic Calcium Oscillations

Charpentier M, Sun J, Martins TV, Radhakrishnan GV, Findlay K, Soumpourou E, Thouin J, Véry AA, Sanders D, Morris RJ, Oldroyd GED, 27 MAY 2016, Science : 1102-1105

Nuclear-associated Ca2+ oscillations mediate plant responses to beneficial microbial partners—namely, nitrogen-fixing rhizobial bacteria that colonize roots of legumes and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi that colonize roots of the majority of plant species. A potassium-permeable channel is known to be required for symbiotic Ca2+ oscillations, but the calcium channels themselves have been unknown until now. We show that three cyclic nucleotide–gated channels in Medicago truncatula are required for nuclear Ca2+oscillations and subsequent read more…

The receptor Kinase CERK1 has Dual Functions in Symbiosis and Immunity Signalling

Zhang, X, Dong, W, Sun, J, Feng, F, Deng, Y, He, Z, Oldroyd, G and Wang, E (2015) Plant Journal 81:258-267

The establishment of symbiotic interactions between mycorrhizal fungi, rhizobial bacteria and their legume hosts involves a common symbiosis signalling pathway. This signalling pathway is activated by Nod factors produced by rhizobia and these are recognised by the Nod factor receptors NFR1/LYK3 and NFR5/NFP. Mycorrhizal fungi produce lipochitooligosaccharides (LCOs) similar to Nod factors, as well as short-chain chitin oligomers (CO4/5), implying commonalities in signalling during mycorrhizal and rhizobial associations. Here we read more…

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