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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018


Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions - LIPM

Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions

Symbiotic signals and root development - Sandra BENSMIHEN

Effects of symbiotic signals on root development and symbiosis

Our main research interests are in understanding how lipo-chitooligosaccharide molecules (LCOs), produced by symbiotic microbes can influence plant root development, and more specifically the formation of new lateral roots (LR) (see Figure below).

We are mostly working on the model legume Medicago truncatula but are also interested in other legume plants (such as pea) and non legumes (such as the model monocot Brachypodium distachyon (Buendia et al., 2019)).


LCO treatment leads to the formation of new LR in Medicago truncatula

We showed that LCOs potentiate auxin action on LR formation and gene expression in Medicago and Brachypodium (Herrbach et al., 2017 ; Buendia et al., 2019) and are now interested in better understanding the molecular mechanisms by which LCOs potentiate auxin responses and how does this control LRF stimulation, nodulation and mycorrhization.

 To unravel these molecular mechanisms, we are using a variety of approaches, ranging from natural genetic variation among M. truncatula natural accessions to perform Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS, in collaboration with M. Bonhomme and C. Jacquet, LRSV) to transcriptomics, cellular and pharmacological approaches.

 To enable more efficient screening of root phenotypes, we are developping high throughput root phenotyping together with the Toulouse Plant Microbe Phenotyping (TPMP) platform facility, onsite.

Lignées HM

Examples of Medicago truncatula natural accessions showing contrasted root architecture

Root phenotyping robot at TPMP and root images segmentation

We are also interested in the molecular mechanisms governing more generally LR formation in Medicago (Herrbach et al., 2014), the specificities of LRF in legumes and how does this relate to nodule organogenesis. To address this, we are currently using both reverse genetics and comparative transcriptomics approaches (collaboration with the team of T. Beeckman, VIB Ghent, Belgium).

 Together with M. Libault (University of Nebraska, USA) and Jean-Malo Couzigou (LRSV, Toulouse) we are setting up single cell transcriptomics approaches in Medicago.  We also continue to develop tissue-specific tools to address cell autonous and non cell automonous effect of LCO actions (Rival et al., 2012 ; Sevin-Pujol et al., 2017).

Expression tissulaire du transgène LaSCR1 :GUS  dans les racines et nodosités de M. truncatula

Expression pattern of LaSCR1 :GUS in M. truncatula roots and nodules (From Sevin-Pujol et al., 2017) (GUS staining appears in blue, counterstaining is ruthenium red)


Maxime Bonhomme, Christophe Jacquet (LRSV, Toulouse)

Hans Motte, T. Beeckman (VIB, Ghent, Belgium)

Toulouse Platforms : TPMP, FRAIB microscopy (A. Leru), Get-Santé (F. Martins)


FRAIB: SINGULARITY, coordination S. Bensmihen, collab. JM Couzigou, (LRSV) (2020-2021)

Past :

INRA-SPE call 2016 : LCAux, coordination S . Bensmihen (2017-2018)

FRAIB : AUXIMED, coordination S . Bensmihen, collab C. Jacquet, LRSV Toulouse to set up a phenotyping robot at TPMP (2018)

TULIP- LABEX : « tissu specific tools for Medicago truncatula», coordination S . Bensmihen, (2014-2015) ;   OPERA (« optimisation du phénotypage moyen débit pour Medicago truncatula »), coordination S . Bensmihen, collab. P. Nacry, BPMP, Montpellier (2019)

ANR Nice-crops, participant, Coord. G. Bécard LRSV, where GWAS was first developed (2014-2019)

Selected Publications

Buhian WP, Bensmihen S. 2018. Mini-Review: Nod Factor Regulation of Phytohormone Signaling and Homeostasis During Rhizobia-Legume Symbiosis. Front Plant Sci 9, 1247. 


Buendia L, Maillet F, O'Connor D, van de-Kerkhove Q, Danoun S, Gough C, Lefebvre B, Bensmihen S. 2019. Lipo-chitooligosaccharides promote lateral root formation and modify auxin homeostasis in Brachypodium distachyon. New Phytologist 221, 2190-2202. 


Herrbach V, Chirinos X, Rengel D, Agbevenou K, Vincent R, Pateyron S, Huguet S, Balzergue S, Pasha A, Provart N, Gough C, Bensmihen S. 2017. Nod factors potentiate auxin signaling for transcriptional regulation and lateral root formation in Medicago truncatula. J Exp Bot 68, 569-583. 


Herrbach V, Remblière C, Gough C, Bensmihen S. 2014. Lateral root formation and patterning in Medicago truncatula. Journal of Plant Physiology 171, 301-310


Rival P, de Billy F, Bono JJ, Gough C, Rosenberg C, Bensmihen S. 2012. Epidermal and cortical roles of NFP and DMI3 in coordinating early steps of nodulation in Medicago truncatula. Development 139, 3383-3391. 


Sevin-Pujol A, Sicard M, Rosenberg C, Auriac MC, Lepage A, Niebel A, Gough C, Bensmihen S. 2017. Development of a GAL4-VP16/UAS trans-activation system for tissue specific expression in Medicago truncatula. PLoS One 12, e0188923.