The influence of contrasting microbial lifestyles on the pre-symbiotic metabolite responses of Eucalyptus grandis roots JWH Wong, A Lutz, S Natera, M Wang, V Ng, IV Grigoriev, FM Martin, … Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7, 10
Plant roots co-inhabit the soil with a diverse consortium of microbes of which a number attempt to enter symbiosis with the plant. These microbes may be pathogenic, mutualistic or commensal. Hence, the health and survival of plants is heavily reliant on their ability to perceive different microbial lifestyles and respond appropriately. Emerging research suggests that there is a pivotal role for plant root secondary metabolites in responding to microbial colonization. However, it is largely unknown if plants are able to differentiate between microbes of different lifestyles and respond differently during the earliest stages of pre-symbiosis (i.e. prior to physical contact). By studying, here, plant responses to a range of microbial isolates, we questioned: (1) if individual microbes of different lifestyles and species caused alterations to the plant root metabolome during pre-symbiosis, and (2) if these early metabolite responses correlate with the outcome of the symbiotic interaction in later phases of colonization.
We compared the changes of the root tip metabolite profile of the model tree Eucalyptus grandis during pre-symbiosis with two isolates of a pathogenic fungus (Armillaria luteobubalina), one isolate of a pathogenic oomycete (Phytophthora cinnamomi), two isolates of an incompatible mutualistic fungus (Suillus granulatus), and six isolates of a compatible mutualistic fungus (Pisolithus microcarpus). Untargeted metabolite profiling revealed predominantly positive root metabolite responses at the pre-symbiosis stage, prior to any observable phenotypical changes of the root tips. Metabolite responses in the host tissue that were specific to each microbial species were identified. A deeper analysis of the root metabolomic profiles during pre-symbiotic contact with six strains of P. microcarpus showed a connection between these early metabolite responses in the root with later colonization success. Further investigation using isotopic tracing revealed a portion of metabolites found in root tips originated from the fungus. RNA-sequencing also showed that the plant roots undergo complementary transcriptomic reprogramming in responses to the fungal stimuli. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the early metabolite responses of plant roots are partially selective towards the lifestyle of the interacting microbe, and that these responses can be crucial in determining the outcome of the interaction.