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Expression Of Maize And Fungal Nitrate Reductase Genes In Arbuscular Mycorrhiza

Michael Kaldorf, Elmon Schmelzer, Hermann Bothe

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The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in assisting their host plant in nitrate assimilation was studied. With polymerase chain reaction technology, part of the gene coding for the nitrate reductase (NR) apoprotein from either the AM fungus Glomus intraradices or from maize was specifically amplified and subsequently cloned and sequenced. Northern (RNA) blot analysis with these probes indicated that the mRNA level of the maize gene was lower in roots and shoots of mycorrhizal plants than in noncolonized controls, whereas the fungal gene was transcribed in roots of AM plants. The specific NR activity of leaves was significantly lower in AM-colonized maize than in the controls. Nitrite formation catalyzed by NR was mainly NADPH-dependent in roots of AM-colonized plants but not in those of the controls, which is consistent with the fact that NRs of fungi preferentially utilize NADPH as reductant. The fungal NR mRNA was detected in arbuscules but not in vesicles by in situ RNA hybridization experiments. This appears to be the first demonstration of differential formation of transcripts of a gene coding for the same function in both symbiotic partners.