Molecular Basis of Symbiotic Networks and its Application

Research Director

Masayoshi Kawaguchi

Masayoshi Kawaguchi

(Professor, National Institute for Basic Biology, National Institutes of Natural Sciences)

Program Manager

Masanori Saito

Masanori Saito

(ACCEL Program Manager, Japan Science and Technology Agency)

Outline of R&D Project

In the CREST project, we have identified a host factor playing a role in the signal transduction pathways shared by arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) symbiosis and root nodule symbiosis. We have also shown that strigolactones are responsible for transmitting a signal from plants to fungi to establish mycorrhizal symbiosis. Both findings provided us with an insight into the molecular infrastructure that supports AM symbiosis as well as root nodule symbiosis.

In the ACCEL project, we will bring these findings into the field-based research to evaluate the applicability. We will perform field inoculation experiments in multiple locations in Japan to evaluate the efficacy of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in terms of reduction of phosphorous fertilizer use. Simultaneously, we will sequence the genome of mycorrhizal fungi to gain insights into the molecular basis of obligate symbiosis. Our goal is to develop a diagnostic technology for effective use of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to reduce use of phosphorus fertilizer and to enhance the applicability of this novel technology in the field. It has been widely recognized that such technology is in urgent need.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi
AM fungi that establish symbiotic relationship with plants on the roots. The fungi receive photosynthetic products (e.g., sugar) from plants in exchange for nutrients (e.g., phosphate) and water, which the fungi extracts from the soil through their hyphae.

A class of chemicals that regulate growth and development of plant (plant hormones). Strigolactones are secreted from roots depending on the availability of the nutrient in the soil and regulates shoot branching. It also plays an important role in the branching of hyphae of AM fungi.

Phosphorous fertilizer
Due to the limited supply of phosphorous, efficient use of this limited resource is inevitable. Japan is 100% dependent on import to meet its domestic demand, most of which is for agricultural use. For this reason, reducing phosphorus fertilizer use is of particularly crucial.

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