Endogenous PttHb1 and PttTrHb, and heterologous Vitreoscilla vhb haemoglobin gene expression in hybrid aspen roots with ectomycorrhizal interaction

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Abstract

Present knowledge on plant non-symbiotic class-1 (Hb1) and truncated (TrHb) haemoglobin genes is almost entirely based on herbaceous species while the corresponding tree haemoglobin genes are not well known. The function of these genes has recently been linked with endosymbioses between plants and microbes. In this work, the coding sequences of hybrid aspen (Populus tremula×tremuloides) PttHb1 and PttTrHb were characterized, indicating that the key residues of haem and ligand binding of both genes were conserved in the deduced amino acid sequences. The expression of PttHb1 and PttTrHb was examined in parallel with that of the heterologous Vitreoscilla haemoglobin gene (vhb) during ectomycorrhiza/ectomycorrhizal (ECM) interaction. Both ECM fungi studied, Leccinum populinum and Xerocomus subtomentosus, enhanced root formation and subsequent growth of roots of all hybrid aspen lines, but only L. populinum was able to form mycorrhizas. Real-time PCR results show that the dual culture with the ECM fungus, with or without emergence of symbiotic structures, increased the expression of both PttHb1 and PttTrHb in the roots of non-transgenic hybrid aspens. PttHb1 and PttTrHb had expression peaks 5 h and 2 d after inoculation, respectively, pointing to different functions for these genes during interaction with root growth-improving fungi. In contrast, ECM fungi were not able to enhance the expression of hybrid aspen endogenous haemoglobin genes in the VHb lines, which may be a consequence of the compensating action of heterologous haemoglobin.

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