Diversity of morphology and function in arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses in Brachypodium distachyon

Planta. 2012 Sep;236(3):851-65. doi: 10.1007/s00425-012-1677-z. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


Brachypodium distachyon is a grass species that serves as a useful model for wheat and also for many of the grass species proposed as feedstocks for bioenergy production. Here, we monitored B. distachyon symbioses with five different arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and identified symbioses that vary functionally with respect to plant performance. Three symbioses promoted significant increases in shoot phosphorus (P) content and shoot growth of Brachypodium, while two associations were neutral. The Brachypodium/Glomus candidum symbiosis showed a classic 'Paris-type' morphology. In the other four AM symbioses, hyphal growth was exclusively intracellular and linear; hyphal coils were not observed and arbuscules were abundant. Expression of the Brachypodium ortholog of the symbiosis-specific phosphate (Pi) transporter MtPT4 did not differ significantly in these five interactions indicating that the lack of apparent functionality did not result from a failure to express this gene or several other AM symbiosis-associated genes. Analysis of the expression patterns of the complete PHT1 Pi transporter gene family and AMT2 gene family in B. distachyon/G. intraradices mycorrhizal roots identified additional family members induced during symbiosis and again, transcript levels were similar in the different Brachypodium AM symbioses. This initial morphological, molecular and functional characterization provides a framework for future studies of functional diversity in AM symbiosis in B. distachyon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brachypodium / genetics
  • Brachypodium / microbiology*
  • Brachypodium / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Glomeromycota / genetics
  • Glomeromycota / physiology*
  • Hyphae / cytology
  • Hyphae / growth & development
  • Mycorrhizae / genetics*
  • Mycorrhizae / growth & development*
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / cytology
  • Plant Roots / microbiology*
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Symbiosis*


  • Phosphorus