Differential expression of a malate synthase gene during the preinfection stage of symbiosis in the ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria bicolor

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The ectomycorrhiza is a symbiotic organ formed between a filamentous fungus and a plant root, mainly tree roots. Root colonization involves significant shifts in gene expression resulting in metabolic and structural changes in the fungus, including growth toward the plant root, penetration and establishment of the symbiotic organ. The preinfection stage of the association is crucial as changes that occur throughout mycorrhiza formation are set in motion. Using an in vitro system for identifying preinfection stage symbiosis-regulated genes from the Laccaria bicolor-Pinus resinosa interaction we have identified a malate synthase from L. bicolor (Lb-MS). The glyoxylate pathway, of which malate synthase is an enzyme, acts as a tricarboxylic acid pathway bypass generating four-carbon compounds for biosynthesis. While it is anticipated that malate synthase would be a part of the genetic and metabolic machinery of any fungus, Lb-MS is of interest because it is symbiosis regulated. Lb-MS is regulated through interaction between the fungus and the host, by glucose and by the presence of other carbon sources in the medium. Its proposed role in the symbiosis is in the utilization of two carbon compounds formed from catabolic processes in early interaction facilitating hyphal net growth.

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New Phytologist