The mycorrhiza helper bacterial strain Pseudomonas fluorescens BBc6R8 enhances the establishment of Laccaria bicolor S238N ectomycorrhizae by improving the pre-symbiotic growth and survival of the fungus. Nothing is known about the effect of the ectomycorrhizal fungus on the helper bacteria or the molecules that are involved in the interaction. In this study, we have monitored the population density of the helper strain P. fluorescens BBc6R8 in soils inoculated with L. bicolor and in control soils and found that the ectomycorhizal fungus improves the survival of the helper bacteria. We investigated the identity of the fungal and bacterial metabolites involved in this reciprocal growth-promoting effect using a combination of growth measurements, chemoattractant assays, HPLC and in silico genome analyses. We showed that trehalose, a disaccharide that accumulates to high levels in the fungal hyphae, chemoattracted and promoted the growth of the helper bacteria. Meanwhile, P. fluorescens BBc6R8 produced thiamine at concentrations that enhanced the fungal growth in vitro. Altogether our data indicate that the interaction between the two microorganisms is beneficial for both species and relies, at least in part, on trophic mutualism.
© 2010 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.