Front Microbiol 11 , 341 (Mar 9 2020)
The success of Ericaceae in stressful habitats enriched in heavy metals has been ascribed to the distinctive abilities of their mycorrhizal fungal partners to withstand heavy metal stress and to enhance metal tolerance in the host plant. Whereas heavy metal tolerance has been extensively investigated in some ericoid mycorrhizal (ERM) fungi, the molecular and cellular mechanisms that extend tolerance to the host plant are currently unknown. Here, we show a reduced Cd content in Cd-exposed mycorrhizal roots of Vaccinium myrtillus colonized by a metal tolerant isolate of the fungus Oidiodendron maius as compared to non-mycorrhizal roots. To better understand this phenotype, we applied Next Generation Sequencing technologies to analyze gene expression in V. myrtillus and O. maius Zn grown under normal and Cd-stressed conditions, in the free living and in the mycorrhizal status. The results clearly showed that Cd had a stronger impact on plant gene expression than symbiosis, whereas fungal gene expression was mainly regulated by symbiosis. The higher abundance of transcripts coding for stress related proteins in non-mycorrhizal roots may be related to the higher Cd content. Regulated plant metal transporters have been identified that may play a role in reducing Cd content in mycorrhizal roots exposed to this metal.