Genomic Science Program. Click to return to home page.
Department of Energy Office of Science. Click to visit main DOE SC site.

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

Searchable Research Highlights for
Genomic Science Program



Small Proteins Secreted by Poplar Roots Form Communication Route with Associated Fungal Communities
Published: March 23, 2017
Posted: May 10, 2017


The Populus-Laccaria association established in vitro. Photo credits: Anne Jambois, INRA.


The Science  
Small proteins that are secreted from the plant roots were found to act as communication signals between the plant and associated beneficial fungus. These molecular cues have the potential to alter development of both beneficial and pathogenic fungi.

The Impact
This work elucidates the complex communications that occur between mutualistic plant-microbe interactions and the influence of such associations on both partners, opening new avenues for development of high-yielding, sustainable bioenergy field crops.

Summary
Microbial communities surrounding plant roots can form symbiotic associations with the plant, an interaction that requires complex communications between both organisms. Mutualistic associations offer several benefits to the plant such as enhanced growth and tolerance to drought. Mutualistic fungi have evolved elaborate protein-based signals (effectors) that communicate their metabolic requirements to their plant hosts; in turn, root exudates contain small secreted proteins (SSPs) that influence mutualism with the microbes and could function as effector proteins during symbiotic interactions. While many new SSPs have been discovered through annotation of plant genome sequences, their roles as secreted effector proteins during mutualistic symbiosis was uncertain. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, supported by the DOE BER Plant-Microbe Interfaces Scientific Focus Area, used computational prediction and experimentation to identify SSPs in the bioenergy tree Populus trichocarpa and elucidate their effect during mutualistic symbiosis with the ectomycorrhizal fungus, Laccaria bicolor. Of the 2,819 Populus protein-encoding genes that were identified as differentially expressed across all stages of mycorrhizal root tip development during symbiosis between P. trichocarpa and L. bicolor, 417 were predicted to be SSPs (=250 aa in length). Experimentation verified that a subset of these SSPs were able to enter and accumulate in L. bicolor, then alter the development of multiple ectomycorrhizal and pathogenic fungi. This study demonstrates that SSPs in Populus can function as effector proteins during symbiotic interactions, highlighting a novel avenue by which plants communicate with and possibly influence their mutualistic microbial partners.

Contacts (BER PM)
Cathy Ronning 
SC 23.2
catherine.ronning@science.doe.gov

(PI Contact)
Xiaohan Yang
Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
yangx@ornl.gov

Funding
Genomic Science Program, US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research, as part of the Plant-Microbe Interfaces Scientific Focus Area (http://pmi. ornl.gov)

Publications
J.M. Plett, H. Yin, R. Mewalal, R. Hu, T. Li, P. Ranjan, S. Jawdy, H.C. DePaoli, G. Butler, T.M. Burch-Smith, H-B Guo, C.J. Chen, A Kohler, I.C. Anderson, J.L. Labbé, F. Martin, G.A. Tuskan, and X. Yang, “Populus trichocarpa encodes small, effector-like secreted proteins that are highly induced during mutualistic symbiosis.” Scientific Reports 7:382 (2017). [DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-00400-8]. (Reference link)

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Search all BER Highlights

Recent Highlights

Jun 19, 2017
Isotope Delivery in Lignin: Not an Easy Path
Scientists attempt to overcome challenge of limited deuterium uptake by lignin for studies of bi [more...]

May 30, 2017
Unlocking the Potential of Fungal Enzymes to Break Down Plant Cell Walls
Biomass-degrading enzyme complexes could improve biofuel production. The Scien [more...]

May 23, 2017
First Look at a Living Cell Membrane
Neutrons provide the solution to nanoscale examination of living cell membrane and confirm the e [more...]

May 23, 2017
Modifications to the Bacterial Cell Envelope Increase Lipid Production
A new strategy significantly increases the production and secretion of microbial lipids in bacte [more...]

May 19, 2017
High Yield Biomass Conversion Strategy Ready For Commercialization
Researchers demonstrate 80% of biomass is converted into high-value products. [more...]