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Underground networks: decoding the dynamics of plant-fungal symbiosis

Nature's intricate dance often manifests itself in mysterious ways, invisible to the naked eye. At the center of this enigmatic tango is a key contribution: the symbiosis between plants and a kind of fungus often called arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Important latest research, recently published within the journal Nature, explores this partnership, revealing key insights that deepen our understanding of plant-AM fungus interactions and advance sustainable agriculture. could cause

AM fungi live inside plant root cells, forming a singular association with their plant hosts. This relationship is greater than a straightforward coexistence. It involves the complex and vital exchange of nutrients vital for the survival of the fungus and highly useful to the plant.

Researchers on the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) have uncovered the roles of two proteins, CKL1 and CKL2, which might be only energetic in root cells harboring AM fungi. Both of those proteins belong to a big family of proteins often called CKLs, whose functions in plants are still not fully understood.

“Close relatives of the CKL family are proteins, called CDKs, that control the plant cell cycle and are located in the cell nucleus. Surprisingly, the CKL1 and CKL2 proteins have different roles than CDKs.” “They don't control the cell cycle. They are bound to the cell membranes of the root, including a membrane that surrounds the fungus,” said Dr. Sergey Ivanov, a postdoctoral researcher at BTI. And said the primary creator of the study.

The scientists found that these CKL proteins are vital for the survival of fungi inside plant roots. They play a very important role in controlling the flow of lipids (fats) from the plant to the fungus, a process essential for the expansion of the fungus. Without these proteins, key genes that manage this lipid transfer usually are not activated, ravenous the fungi.

The research also uncovered a posh web of interactions involving multiple receptor kinase proteins. One of those kinases is understood for its role in allowing AM fungi to penetrate the outer layer of the foundation. The researchers discovered that this same kinase takes on a brand new role deep inside the foundation, where it partners with the CKL protein, possibly to initiate the flow of lipids into the fungus.

Intriguingly, while CKL proteins are vital for regulating lipid flux, they don't manage the whole symbiotic lipid pathway. Instead, they control the genes chargeable for the initiation and termination of this pathway. Meanwhile, a key protein acting in the course of this pathway, RAM2, is activated by a distinct regulator, RAM1. For full-scale lipid production, each the CKL and RAM1 pathways have to be activated.

“Lipids are expensive for the plant, so dual regulatory mechanisms could ensure that lipid supply is tightly regulated, perhaps by fungal pathogens,” said Dr. Maria Harrison, BTI professor and senior creator of the study. Safeguards Against Exploitation”.

“In an agricultural context, exploiting this natural symbiosis can lead to crops that are more efficient in nutrient acquisition and more resilient to environmental stress,” Harrison continued.

This study not only deepens our understanding of the molecular dynamics behind the plant-AM fungal symbiosis, but in addition highlights the complex and infrequently unseen interactions that sustain life on our planet. It's a reminder of the incredible complexity and interdependence present in nature, much of it hidden beneath our feet.

Funding for this research was provided by the US National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program.