The roots of most higher plants form arbuscular mycorrhiza, an ancient, phosphate-acquiring symbiosis with fungi, whereas only four related plant orders are able to engage in the evolutionary younger nitrogen-fixing root-nodule symbiosis with bacteria. Plant symbioses with bacteria and fungi require a set of common signal transduction components that redirect root cell development. Here we present two highly homologous genes from Lotus japonicus, CASTOR and POLLUX, that are indispensable for microbial admission into plant cells and act upstream of intracellular calcium spiking, one of the earliest plant responses to symbiotic stimulation. Surprisingly, both twin proteins are localized in the plastids of root cells, indicating a previously unrecognized role of this ancient endosymbiont in controlling intracellular symbioses that evolved more recently.
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