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Science 318 (5848): 265-268

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Lyso-Phosphatidylcholine Is a Signal in the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis

David Drissner,1 Gernot Kunze,1 Nico Callewaert,2,3 Peter Gehrig,4 M'Barek Tamasloukht,1 Thomas Boller,5 Georg Felix,5 Nikolaus Amrhein,6 Marcel Bucher1,7*

Abstract: The arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis represents the most widely distributed mutualistic root symbiosis. We report that root extracts of mycorrhizal plants contain a lipophilic signal capable of inducing the phosphate transporter genes StPT3 and StPT4 of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), genes that are specifically induced in roots colonized by AM fungi. The same signal caused rapid extracellular alkalinization in suspension-cultured tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) cells and induction of the mycorrhiza-specific phosphate transporter gene LePT4 in these cells. The active principle was characterized as the lysolipid lyso-phosphatidylcholine (LPC) via a combination of gene expression studies, alkalinization assays in cell cultures, and chromatographic and mass spectrometric analyses. Our results highlight the importance of lysophospholipids as signals in plants and in particular in the AM symbiosis.

1 Institute of Plant Sciences, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich, Experimental Station Eschikon 33, 8315 Lindau, Switzerland.
2 Zurich Glycomics Initiative, ETH Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.
3 Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, VIB, and Department for Biochemistry, Physiology, and Microbiology, Ghent University, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.
4 Functional Genomics Center Zurich, University of Zurich, and ETH Zurich, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
5 Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Hebelstrasse 1, 4056 Basel, Switzerland.
6 Institute of Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 2, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.
7 Institute of Botany, University of Cologne, Gyrhofstrasse 15, 50931 Cologne, Germany.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: m.bucher{at}

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