An autophagy-related kinase is essential for the symbiotic relationship between Phaseolus vulgaris and both rhizobia and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Eukaryotes contain three types of lipid kinases that belong to the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) family. In plants and Saccharomyces, only PI3K class III family members have been identified. These enzymes regulate the innate immune response, intracellular trafficking, autophagy, and senescence. Here, we report that RNAi-mediated down-regulation of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) PI3K severely impaired symbiosis in composite P. vulgaris plants with endosymbionts such as Rhizobium tropici and Rhizophagus irregularis. Downregulation of Pv-PI3K was associated with a marked decrease in root hair growth and curling. Additionally, infection thread growth, root-nodule number, and symbiosome formation in root nodule cells were severely affected. Interestingly, root colonization by AM fungi and the formation of arbuscules were also abolished in PI3K loss-of-function plants. Furthermore, the transcript accumulation of genes encoding proteins known to interact with PI3K to form protein complexes involved in autophagy was drastically reduced in these transgenic roots. RNAi-mediated downregulation of one of these genes, Beclin1 / Atg6, resulted in a similar phenotype as observed for transgenic roots in which Pv-PI3K had been downregulated. Our findings show that an autophagy-related process is crucial for the mutualistic interactions of P. vulgaris with beneficial microorganisms.