The characterization of novel mycorrhiza-specific phosphate transporters from ¤Lycopersicon esculentum¤ and ¤Solanum tuberosum¤ uncovers functional redundancy in symbiotic phosphate transport in solanaceous species
Solanaceous species are among the >200 000 plant species worldwide forming a mycorrhiza, that is, a root living in symbiosis with soil-borne arbuscular-mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. An important parameter of this symbiosis, which is vital for ecosystem productivity, agriculture, and horticulture, is the transfer of phosphate (Pi) from the AM fungus to the plant, facilitated by plasma membrane-spanning Pi transporter proteins. The first mycorrhiza-specific plant Pi transporter to be identified, was StPT3 from potato [Nature 414 (2004) 462]. Here, we describe novel Pi transporters from the solanaceous species tomato, LePT4, and its orthologue StPT4 from potato, both being members of the Pht1 family of plant Pi transporters. Phylogenetic tree analysis demonstrates clustering of both LePT4 and StPT4 with the mycorrhiza-specific Pi transporter from Medicago truncatula [Plant Cell, 14 (2002) 2413] and rice [Proc. Natl Acad Sci. USA, 99 (2002) 13324], respectively, but not with StPT3, indicating that two non-orthologous mycorrhiza-responsive genes encoding Pi transporters are co-expressed in the Solanaceae. The cloned promoter regions from both genes, LePT4 and StPT4, exhibit a high degree of sequence identity and were shown to direct expression exclusively in colonized cells when fused to the GUS reporter gene, in accordance with the abundance of LePT4 and StPT4 transcripts in mycorrhized roots. Furthermore, extensive sequencing of StPT4-like clones and subsequent expression analysis in potato and tomato revealed the presence of a close paralogue of StPT4 and LePT4, named StPT5 and LePT5, respectively, representing a third Pi transport system in solanaceous species which is upregulated upon AM fungal colonization of roots. Knock out of LePT4 in the tomato cv. MicroTom indicated considerable redundancy between LePT4 and other Pi transporters in tomato.