Multi-Omics Approach Identifies Molecular Mechanisms of Plant-Fungus Mycorrhizal Interaction.

In mycorrhizal symbiosis, plant roots form close, mutually beneficial interactions with soil fungi. Before this mycorrhizal interaction can be established however, plant roots must be capable of detecting potential beneficial fungal partners and initiating the gene expression patterns necessary to begin symbiosis. To predict a plant root-mycorrhizal fungi sensor systems, we analyzed in vitro experiments of Populus tremuloides (aspen tree) and Laccaria bicolor (mycorrhizal fungi) interaction and leveraged over 200 previously published transcriptomic experimental data sets, 159 experimentally validated plant transcription factor binding motifs, and more than 120-thousand experimentally validated protein-protein interactions to generate models of pre-mycorrhizal sensor systems in aspen root. These sensor mechanisms link extracellular signaling molecules with gene regulation through a network comprised of membrane receptors, signal cascade proteins, transcription factors, and transcription factor biding DNA motifs. Modeling predicted four pre-mycorrhizal sensor complexes in aspen that interact with 15 transcription factors to regulate the expression of 1184 genes in response to extracellular signals synthesized by Laccaria. Predicted extracellular signaling molecules include common signaling molecules such as phenylpropanoids, salicylate, and jasmonic acid. This multi-omic computational modeling approach for predicting the complex sensory networks yielded specific, testable biological hypotheses for mycorrhizal interaction signaling compounds, sensor complexes, and mechanisms of gene regulation.