Mildew Locus O facilitates colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in angiosperms.
Loss of barley Mildew Resistance Locus O (MLO) is known to confer durable and robust resistance to powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis), a biotrophic fungal leaf pathogen. Based on the increased expression of MLO in mycorrhizal roots and its presence in a clade of the MLO family that is specific to mycorrhizal-host species, we investigated the potential role of MLO in arbuscular mycorrhizal interactions. Using mutants from barley (Hordeum vulgare), wheat (Triticum aestivum), and Medicago truncatula, we demonstrate a role for MLO in colonization by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Rhizophagus irregularis. Early mycorrhizal colonization was reduced in mlo mutants of barley, wheat, and M. truncatula, and this was accompanied by a pronounced decrease in the expression of many of the key genes required for intracellular accommodation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These findings show that clade IV MLOs are involved in the establishment of symbiotic associations with beneficial fungi, a role that has been appropriated by powdery mildew.