Does a common pathway transduce symbiotic signals in plant–microbe interactions?

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Recent years have witnessed major advances in our knowledge of plant mutualistic symbioses such as the rhizobium-legume symbiosis (RLS) and arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM). Some of these findings caused the revision of longstanding hypotheses, but one of the most solid theories is that a conserved set of plant proteins rules the transduction of symbiotic signals from beneficial glomeromycetes and rhizobia in a so-called common symbiotic pathway (CSP). Nevertheless, the picture still misses several elements, and a few crucial points remain unclear. How does one common pathway discriminate between – at least – two symbionts? Can we exclude that microbes other than AM fungi and rhizobia also use this pathway to communicate with their host plants? We here discuss the possibility that our current view is biased by a long-lasting focus on legumes, whose ability to develop both AM and RLS is an exception among plants and a recent innovation in their evolution; investigations in non-legumes are starting to place legume symbiotic signaling in a broader perspective. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that CSP proteins act in a wider scenario of symbiotic and non-symbiotic signaling. Overall, evidence is accumulating in favor of distinct activities for CSP proteins in AM and RLS, depending on the molecular and cellular context where they act.




Genre, A., & Russo, G. (2016). Does a common pathway transduce symbiotic signals in plant–microbe interactions? Frontiers in Plant Science, 7(FEB2016).

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