The rhizosphere is teemed with organisms that coordinate their symbioses using chemical signals traversing between the host root and symbionts. Chemical signals also mediate interactions between roots of different plants, perhaps the most obvious being those between parasitic Orobanchaceae and their plant hosts. Parasitic plants use specific molecules provided by host roots to initiate the development of haustoria, invasive structures critical for plant parasitism. We took a transcriptomics approach to identify parasitic plant genes associated with host factor recognition and haustorium signaling and previously identified a gene, TvPirin, which is transcriptionally up-regulated in roots of the parasitic plant Triphysaria versicolor after being exposed to the haustorium-inducing molecule 2,6-dimethoxybenzoquinone (DMBQ). Because TvPirin shares homology with proteins associated with environmental signaling in some plants, we hypothesized that TvPirin may function in host factor recognition in parasitic plants. We tested the function of TvPirin in T. versicolor roots using hairpin-mediated RNA interference. Reducing TvPirin transcripts in T. versicolor roots resulted in significantly less haustoria development in response to DMBQ exposure. We determined the transcript levels of other root expressed transcripts and found that several had reduced basal levels of gene expression but were similarly regulated by quinone exposure. Phylogenic investigations showed that TvPirin homologs are present in most flowering plants, and we found no evidence of parasite-specific gene duplication or expansion. We propose that TvPirin is a generalized transcription factor associated with the expression of a number of genes, some of which are involved in haustorium development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science