Most field-grown plants are surrounded by microbes, especially from the soil. Some of these, including bacteria, fungi and nematodes, specifically manipulate the growth and development of their plant hosts, primarily for the formation of structures housing the microbes in roots. These developmental processes require the correct localization of the phytohormone auxin, which is involved in the control of cell division, cell enlargement, organ development and defense, and is thus a likely target for microbes that infect and invade plants. Some microbes have the ability to directly synthesize auxin. Others produce specific signals that indirectly alter the accumulation of auxin in the plant by altering auxin transport. This review highlights root–microbe interactions in which auxin transport is known to be targeted by symbionts and parasites to manipulate the development of their host root system. We include case studies for parasitic root–nematode interactions, mycorrhizal symbioses as well as nitrogen fixing symbioses in actinorhizal and legume hosts. The mechanisms to achieve auxin transport control that have been studied in model organisms include the induction of plant flavonoids that indirectly alter auxin transport and the direct targeting of auxin transporters by nematode effectors. In most cases, detailed mechanisms of auxin transport control remain unknown.
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