, Volume 225, Issue 4, pp 1031-1038
Date: 27 Jan 2007

Phosphorus deficiency in red clover promotes exudation of orobanchol, the signal for mycorrhizal symbionts and germination stimulant for root parasites

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Plant derived sesquiterpene strigolactones, which have previously been characterized as germination stimulants for root parasitic plants, have recently been identified as the branching factors which induce hyphal branching morphogenesis, a critical step in host recognition by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. We show here that, in red clover plants (Trifolium pratense L.), which is known as a host for both AM fungi and the root holoparasitic plant Orobanche minor Sm., reduced supply of phosphorus (P) but not of other elements examined (N, K, Mg, Ca) in the culture medium significantly promotes the release of a strigolactone, orobanchol, by the roots of this plant. In red clover plants, the level of orobanchol exudation appeared to be regulated by P availability and was in good agreement with germination stimulation activity of the root exudates. This implies that under P deficiency, plant roots attract not only symbiotic fungi but also root parasitic plants through the release of strigolactones. This is the first report demonstrating that nutrient availability influences both symbiotic and parasitic interactions in the rhizosphere.