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Tracing Nonlegume Orthologs Of Legume Genes Required For Nodulation And Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbioses

Hongyan Zhu, Brendan K Riely, Nicole J Burns, Jean-Michel Ané

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AbstractMost land plants can form a root symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi for assimilation of inorganic phosphate from the soil. In contrast, the nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis is almost completely restricted to the legumes. The finding that the two symbioses share common signaling components in legumes suggests that the evolutionarily younger nitrogen-fixing symbiosis has recruited functions from the more ancient AM symbiosis. The recent advances in cloning of the genes required for nodulation and AM symbioses from the two model legumes, Medicago truncatula and Lotus japonicus, provide a unique opportunity to address biological questions pertaining to the evolution of root symbioses in plants. Here, we report that nearly all cloned legume genes required for nodulation and AM symbioses have their putative orthologs in nonlegumes. The orthologous relationship can be clearly defined on the basis of both sequence similarity and microsyntenic relationship. The results presented here serve as a prelude to the comparative analysis of orthologous gene function between legumes and nonlegumes and facilitate our understanding of how gene functions and signaling pathways have evolved to generate species- or family-specific phenotypes.