3 years ago

Composite poplars: a novel tool for ectomycorrhizal research

Arpita Das, Dimitri Neb, Uwe Nehls, Annette Hintelmann


Key Message

Composite poplars were used for ectomycorrhiza formation. Structurally normal mycorrhizas of transgenic roots revealed better fungal sugar support. Targeting fluorescent proteins to peroxisomes allowed easy in planta visualization of successful transformation.


A bottle neck in ectomycorrhizal research is the time demand for generation of transgenic plants. An alternative strategy for such root-centered research might be the formation of the so-called composite plants, where transgenic roots are formed by non-transgenic shoots. We have developed an Agrobacterium rhizogenes-mediated root transformation protocol using axenic Populus tremula × tremuloides and P. tremula × alba cuttings. When comparing four different bacterial strains, A. rhizogenes K599 turned out to be the most suitable for poplar transformation. Transgenic roots revealed only minor hairy root phenotype when plants were grown on agar plates with synthetic growth medium in the absence of a sugar source. When using different ectomycorrhizal fungi, formation of ectomycorrhizas by transgenic roots of composite poplars was not affected and mycorrhizas were anatomically indistinguishable from mycorrhizas of non-transgenic roots. Elevated trehalose content and marker gene expression, however, pointed towards somewhat better fungal carbon nutrition in ectomycorrhizas of transgenic compared to non-transgenic roots. Cell wall autofluorescence of poplar fine roots is an issue that can limit the use of fluorescent proteins as visual markers for in planta analysis, especially after ectomycorrhiza formation. By targeting marker proteins to peroxisomes, sensitive fluorescence detection, easily distinguishable from cell wall autofluorescence, was obtained for both poplar fine roots and ectomycorrhizas.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00299-017-2212-2

DOI: 10.1007/s00299-017-2212-2

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