The Roles of Auxins and Cytokinins in Mycorrhizal Symbioses
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Most land plant species that have been examined exist naturally with a higher fungus living in and around their roots in a symbiotic partnership called a mycorrhiza. Several types of mycorrhizal symbiosis exist, defined by the host/partner combination and the morphology of the symbiotic structures. The arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) is ancient and may have co-evolved with land plants. Emerging results from gene expression studies have suggested that subsets of AM genes were co-opted during the evolution of other biotrophic symbioses. Here we compare the roles of phytohormones in AM symbiosis and ectomycorrhizas (EC), a more recent symbiosis. To date, there is little evidence of physiologic overlap between the two symbioses with respect to phytohormone involvement. Research on AM has shown that cytokinin (CK) accumulation is specifically enhanced by symbiosis throughout the plant. We propose a pathway of events linking enhanced CK to development of the AM. Additional and proposed involvement of other phytohormones are also described. The role of auxin in EC symbiosis and recent research advances on the topic are reviewed. We have reflected the literature bias in reporting individual growth regulator effects. However, we consider that gradients and ratios of these molecules are more likely to be the causal agents of morphologic changes resulting from fungal associations. We expect that once the individual roles of these compounds are explained, the subtleties of their function will be more clearly addressed.
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