In planta sporulation of Frankia spp. as a determinant of alder-symbiont interactions

G. Schwob, M. Roy, A. C. Pozzi, A. Herrera-Belaroussi, M. P. Fernandez

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3 Scopus citations


The Alnus genus forms symbiosis with the actinobacteria Frankia spp. and ectomycorrhizal fungi. Two types of Frankia lineages can be distinguished based on their ability to sporulate in planta. Spore-positive (Sp+) strains are predominant on Alnus incana and Alnus viridis in highlands, while spore-negative (Sp-) strains are mainly associated with Alnus glutinosa in lowlands. Here, we investigated whether the Sp+ predominance in nodules is due to host selection of certain Frankia genotypes from soil communities or the result of the ecological history of the alder stand soil, as well as the effect of the sporulation genotype on the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) communities. Trapping experiments were conducted using A. glutinosa, A. incana, and A. viridis plantlets on 6 soils, differing in the alder species and the frequency of Sp+ nodules in the field. Higher diversity of Frankia spp. and variation in Sp+ frequencies were observed in the trapping than in the fields. Both indigenous and trapping species shape Frankia community structure in trapped nodules. Nodulation impediments were observed under several trapping conditions in Sp+ soils, supporting a narrower host range of Sp+ Frankia species. A. incana and A. viridis were able to associate equally with compatible Sp+ and Sp- strains in the greenhouse. Additionally, no host shift was observed for Alnus-specific ECM, and the sporulation genotype of Frankia spp. defined the ECM communities on the host roots. The symbiotic association is likely determined by the host range, the soil history, and the type of in planta Frankia species. These results provide an insight into the biogeographical drivers of alder symbionts in the Holarctic region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01737-18
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Actinorhizal symbiosis
  • Alnus
  • Ectomycorrhizae
  • Frankia
  • Host specificity
  • In planta sporulation

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