Mediation of plant–mycorrhizal interaction by a lectin receptor-like kinase


The molecular mechanisms underlying mycorrhizal symbioses, the most ubiquitous and impactful mutualistic plant–microbial interaction in nature, are largely unknown. Through genetic mapping, resequencing and molecular validation, we demonstrate that a G-type lectin receptor-like kinase (lecRLK) mediates the symbiotic interaction between Populus and the ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria bicolor. This finding uncovers an important molecular step in the establishment of symbiotic plant–fungal associations and provides a molecular target for engineering beneficial mycorrhizal relationships.

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Fig. 1: Identification of the PtLecRLK1 locus as a Populus–Laccaria QTL.
Fig. 2: Co-cultures of Arabidopsis transgenic plants expressing PtLecRLK1 with L. bicolor.

Data availability

Data that support the findings of this study have been deposited in public repositories. The transcriptomics data have been deposited by the Joint Genome Institute at GenBank ( under the accession code SRP117109.


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We thank M. Kirst at the University of Florida for allowing us to use the P. deltoides population. This work was supported by the Plant-Microbe Interfaces Scientific Focus Area in the Genomic Science Program, the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. The transcriptomics work was supported by the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) and the Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI). BESC and CBI are US DOE Bioenergy Research Centers supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC., for the US DOE under contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725. The work conducted by the US DOE Joint Genome Institute was supported by the Office of Science of the US DOE under contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. W.M. was supported in part by the DOE Office of Science Early Career Research Program under the Biological and Environmental Research programme office. J.L. and F.L.T. were supported in part by a visiting grant from the Laboratory of Excellence ARBRE (No. ANR-11-LABX-0002-01) and the Region Lorraine Research Council. K.Z., J.W., X.W. and H.W. were partially supported by visiting scholarships from the China Scholarship Council. Part of the work was performed at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the US Department of Energy or the US government.

Author information

J.L., W.M., J.-G.C. and G.A.T. initiated the project and coordinated data analysis and manuscript preparation. J.L., W.M., J.W., O.C. and T.L. analysed the QTLs and performed genotyping. O.C., X.W., A.C.B., K.Z., Y.Y., M.X., D.W., P.M., H.W., J.L.M.-F., K.R.C., L.G.S.M., J.-M.A., R.M., S.S.J. and J.-G.C. performed Arabidopsis-related experiments. Z.Z., T.J.T. and D.A.J. performed metabolite profiling. W.S., J.M. and J.S. analysed the Populus resequencing data. L.E.G. and F.L.T. assisted with QTLs and plant–fungal experiments. J.Z., T.L., P.R., E.L., X.Y. and K.B. performed transcriptomics analysis. J.L., W.M., J.-G.C. and G.A.T. drafted the manuscript and all authors critically reviewed and approved the final version of the manuscript for publication.

Correspondence to Jin-Gui Chen.

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Competing interests

The strategy for genetic engineering of host–microbe symbiosis into non-host organisms based on the discovery described in this paper has been included in a patent application filed by UT-Battelle, LLC.

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Peer review information: Nature Plants thanks Mika Tarkka and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods, Supplementary References, Supplementary Figs. 1–8 and Supplementary Tables 1–3.

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