The ISME journal

Signal beyond nutrient, fructose, exuded by an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus triggers phytate mineralization by a phosphate solubilizing bacterium.

PMID 29899507


Cooperation is a prevalent phenomenon in nature and how it originates and maintains is a fundamental question in ecology. Many efforts have been made to understand cooperation between individuals in the same species, while the mechanisms enabling cooperation between different species are less understood. Here, we investigated under strict in vitro culture conditions if the exchange of carbon and phosphorus is pivotal to the cooperation between the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) Rhizophagus irregularis and the phosphate solubilizing bacterium (PSB) Rahnella aquatilis. We observed that fructose exuded by the AMF stimulated the expression of phosphatase genes in the bacterium as well as the rate of phosphatase release into the growth medium by regulating its protein secretory system. The phosphatase activity was subsequently increased, promoting the mineralization of organic phosphorus (i.e., phytate) into inorganic phosphorus, stimulating simultaneously the processes involved in phosphorus uptake by the AMF. Our results demonstrated for the first time that fructose not only is a carbon source, but also plays a role as a signal molecule triggering bacteria-mediated organic phosphorus mineralization processes. These results highlighted the molecular mechanisms by which the hyphal exudates play a role in maintaining the cooperation between AMF and bacteria.