A combination of chitooligosaccharide and lipochitooligosaccharide recognition promotes arbuscular mycorrhizal associations in Medicago truncatula

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Plants associate with beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi facilitating nutrient acquisition. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi produce chitooligosaccharides (COs) and lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCOs), that promote symbiosis signalling with resultant oscillations in nuclear-associated calcium. The activation of symbiosis signalling must be balanced with activation of immunity signalling, which in fungal interactions is promoted by COs resulting from the chitinaceous fungal cell wall. Here we demonstrate that COs ranging from CO4-CO8 can induce symbiosis signalling in Medicago truncatula. CO perception is a function of the receptor-like kinases MtCERK1 and LYR4, that activate both immunity and symbiosis signalling. A combination of LCOs and COs act synergistically to enhance symbiosis signalling and suppress immunity signalling and receptors involved in both CO and LCO perception are necessary for mycorrhizal establishment. We conclude that LCOs, when present in a mix with COs, drive a symbiotic outcome and this mix of signals is essential for arbuscular mycorrhizal establishment.