Autoregulation of nodulation (AON) is a long-distance signalling regulatory system maintaining the balance of symbiotic nodulation in legume plants. However, the intricacy of internal signalling and absence of flux and biochemical data, are a bottleneck for investigation of AON. To address this, a new computational modelling approach called “Computational Complementation” has been developed. The main idea is to use functional-structural modelling to complement the deficiency of an empirical model of a loss-of-function (non-AON) mutant with hypothetical AON mechanisms. If computational complementation demonstrates a phenotype similar to the wild-type plant, the signalling hypothesis would be suggested as “reasonable”. Our initial case for application of this approach was to test whether or not wild-type soybean cotyledons provide the shoot-derived inhibitor (SDI) to regulate nodule progression. We predicted by computational complementation that the cotyledon is part of the shoot in terms of AON and that it produces the SDI signal, a result that was confirmed by reciprocal epicotyl-and-hypocotyl grafting in a real-plant experiment. This application demonstrates the feasibility of computational complementation and shows its usefulness for applications where real-plant experimentation is either difficult or impossible.
Endogenous signals, such as phytohormones, play a vital role in plant development and function, controlling processes such as flowering, branching, disease response, and nodulation. However, the signalling mechanisms are so subtle and so complex that details about them remain largely unknown. In this study, we develop a “Computational Complementation” approach for the investigation of long-distance signalling networks during legume autoregulation of nodulation (AON). The key idea is to use computational modelling to complement the deficiency of an empirical model of an AON deficient mutant with hypothesised AON components. If the complementation restores a wild-type nodulation phenotype, the modelled hypotheses would be supported as reasonable. To evaluate the feasibility of this approach, we tested whether wild-type soybean cotyledons participate in AON, commonly controlled by “real” leaves. The test gave an affirmative result (i.e., cotyledons do have AON activity), which was subsequently confirmed by a graft experiment on real plants. Future applications of this approach may be to test candidate AON signals such as auxins, flavones, and CLE peptides, and other plant signalling networks.
High input costs and environmental pressures to reduce nitrogen use in agriculture have increased the competitive advantage of legume crops. The symbiotic relationship that legumes form with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria in root nodules is central to this advantage.
Understanding how legume plants maintain control of nodulation to balance the nitrogen gains with their energy needs and developmental costs will assist in increasing their productivity and relative advantage. For this reason, the regulation of nodulation has been extensively studied since the first mutants exhibiting increased nodulation were isolated almost three decades ago.
Nodulation is regulated primarily via a systemic mechanism known as the autoregulation of nodulation (AON), which is controlled by a CLAVATA1-like receptor kinase. Multiple components sharing homology with the CLAVATA signalling pathway that maintains control of the shoot apical meristem in arabidopsis have now been identified in AON. This includes the recent identification of several CLE peptides capable of activating nodule inhibition responses, a low molecular weight shoot signal and a role for CLAVATA2 in AON. Efforts are now being focused on directly identifying the interactions of these components and to identify the form that long-distance transport molecules take.
Legume nodulation; AON; signalling; hormone; plant peptide; receptor kinase; symbiosis
Legumes enter nodule symbioses with nitrogen-fixing bacteria (rhizobia), whereas most flowering plants establish symbiotic associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Once first steps of symbiosis are initiated, nodule formation and mycorrhization in legumes is negatively controlled by a shoot-derived inhibitor (SDI), a phenomenon termed autoregulation. According to current views, autoregulation of nodulation and mycorrhization in legumes is regulated in a similar way. CLE peptides induced in response to rhizobial nodulation signals (Nod factors) have been proposed to represent the ascending long-distance signals to the shoot. Although not proven yet, these CLE peptides are likely perceived by leucine-rich repeat (LRR) autoregulation receptor kinases in the shoot. Autoregulation of mycorrhization in non-legumes is reminiscent to the phenomenon of “systemic acquired resistance” in plant-pathogen interactions.
arbuscular mycorrhiza; autoregulation; CLE peptides; mutant; nodulation; split-root system
Legume plants tightly control the number and development of root nodules. This is partly regulated by a long-distance signaling known as autoregulation of nodulation (AON). AON signaling involves at least two potential long-distance signals: root-derived signal and shoot-derived signal. However, their molecular characteristics and the mode of action remain unclear. In our recent study, we isolated a novel Lotus japonicus hypernodulating mutant too much love (tml). Based on several grafting experiments, we concluded that its causative gene TML functions as a receptor of the shoot-derived signal. This finding prompted us to ask how the candidates of the long-distance signal molecules, LjCLE-RS1/2 and jasmonic acid (JA), are affected in tml mutants. Expression analysis revealed that rapid induction of LjCLE-RS1/2 upon rhizobial inoculation is still intact in tml, supporting that TML plays a role in reception of the shootderived signal but not in generation of the root-derived signal. Furthermore, physiological analysis showed that JA, a candidate of the shoot-derived signal, can suppress tml hypernodulation. Therefore, contrary to the previous report, JA might not be a component of AON signaling.
CLE; legume-Rhizobium symbiosis; long-distance signaling; Lotus japonicus; nodulation; HAR1
Nutrient fluxes associated with legume-rhizobia symbioses are poorly understood and little is known regarding the influence of abiotic stresses on development and maintenance of N-fixing nodules and root system architecture (RSA). We examined effects of Zn on nodule development and structure, root architecture, and expression of nodulation-related miRNAs in Medicago truncatula and the mutant, raz (requires additional Zn).
Excess Zn increased root and shoot associated Zn in both genotypes, however, raz plants had lower root associated Zn than WT plants. Roots of raz plants exposed to excess Zn had less volume, surface area, and total length compared to WT plants. Raz plants had lower lateral root number than WT plants. Excess Zn was found to increase root diameter in both genotypes. The Mn Translocation Factor (TfMn) increased in response to Zn in both genotypes; this was more pronounced in raz plants. TfZn was higher in raz plants and reduced in both genotypes in response to Zn. Nodulation was not influenced by Zn treatment or plant genotype. MicroRNA166 was upregulated under excess Zn in WT plants.
Neither the raz mutation nor Zn treatment affected nodulation, however, raz plants had altered RSA compared with WT and responded differently to Zn, implying the mutation potentially modulates RSA responses to Zn but doesn’t play a direct role in nodulation. MicroRNA166 was significantly induced in WT plants by excess Zn, warranting further investigation into the potential role it plays in controlling RSA.
Medicago truncatula; Abiotic stress; MicroRNA (miRNA); Zn stress; Translocation factor; QRT-PCR; Legume; Root architecture
Legumes control the nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in response to external and internal stimuli, such as nitrate, and via systemic autoregulation of nodulation (AON). Overexpression of the CLV3/ESR-related (CLE) pre-propeptide-encoding genes GmNIC1 (nitrate-induced and acting locally) and GmRIC1 (Bradyrhizobium-induced and acting systemically) suppresses soybean nodulation dependent on the activity of the nodulation autoregulation receptor kinase (GmNARK). This nodule inhibition response was used to assess the relative importance of key structural components within and around the CLE domain sequences of these genes. Using a site-directed mutagenesis approach, mutants were produced at each amino acid within the CLE domain (RLAPEGPDPHHN) of GmRIC1. This approach identified the Arg1, Ala3, Pro4, Gly6, Pro7, Asp8, His11, and Asn12 residues as critical to GmRIC1 nodulation suppression activity (NSA). In contrast, none of the mutations in conserved residues outside of the CLE domain showed compromised NSA. Chimeric genes derived from combinations of GmRIC1 and GmNIC1 domains were used to determine the role of each pre-propeptide domain in NSA differences that exist between the two peptides. It was found that the transit peptide and CLE peptide regions of GmRIC1 significantly enhanced activity of GmNIC1. In contrast, the comparable GmNIC1 domains reduced the NSA of GmRIC1. Identification of these critical residues and domains provides a better understanding of how these hormone-like peptides function in plant development and regulation.
Autoregulation of nodulation; CLE peptides; legumes; nodulation; soybean; symbiosis.
Similarly to the legume-rhizobia symbiosis, the arbuscular mycorrhiza interaction is controlled by autoregulation representing a feedback inhibition involving the CLAVATA1-like receptor kinase NARK in shoots. However, little is known about signals and targets down-stream of NARK. To find NARK-related transcriptional changes in mycorrhizal soybean (Glycine max) plants, we analyzed wild-type and two nark mutant lines interacting with the arbuscular mycorrhiza fungus Rhizophagus irregularis.
Affymetrix GeneChip analysis of non-inoculated and partially inoculated plants in a split-root system identified genes with potential regulation by arbuscular mycorrhiza or NARK. Most transcriptional changes occur locally during arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis and independently of NARK. RT-qPCR analysis verified nine genes as NARK-dependently regulated. Most of them have lower expression in roots or shoots of wild type compared to nark mutants, including genes encoding the receptor kinase GmSIK1, proteins with putative function as ornithine acetyl transferase, and a DEAD box RNA helicase. A predicted annexin named GmAnnx1a is differentially regulated by NARK and arbuscular mycorrhiza in distinct plant organs. Two putative CCAAT-binding transcription factor genes named GmNF-YA1a and GmNF-YA1b are down-regulated NARK-dependently in non-infected roots of mycorrhizal wild-type plants and functional gene analysis confirmed a positive role for these genes in the development of an arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis.
Our results indicate GmNF-YA1a/b as positive regulators in arbuscular mycorrhiza establishment, whose expression is down-regulated by NARK in the autoregulated root tissue thereby diminishing subsequent infections. Genes regulated independently of arbuscular mycorrhization by NARK support an additional function of NARK in symbioses-independent mechanisms.
Affymetrix annexin; GeneChip; autoregulation; arbuscular mycorrhiza; CCAAT-binding transcription factor NF-Y; Rhizophagus irregularis; Glycine max (soybean); quantitative RT-PCR; split-root system
It has long been known that formation of symbiotic root nodules in soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) is controlled by several host genes referred to as Rj (rj) genes, but molecular cloning of these genes has been hampered by soybean’s complicated genome structure and large genome size. Progress in molecular identification of legume genes involved in root nodule symbiosis have been mostly achieved by using two model legumes, Lotus japonicus and Medicago truncatula, that have relatively simple and small genomes and are capable of molecular transfection. However, recent development of resources for soybean molecular genetic research, such as genome sequencing, large EST databases, and high-density linkage maps, have enabled us to isolate several Rj genes. This progress has been achieved in connection with systematic utilization of the information obtained from molecular genetics of the model legumes. In this review, we summarize the current status of knowledge of host-controlled nodulation in soybean based on information from recent studies on Rj genes, and discuss the future research prospects.
soybean; root nodule symbiosis; Rj (rj) gene; host-controlled nodulation; host-restriction of nodulation; autoregulation of nodulation; model legume
A split-root technique was applied to soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr. cv. Lee 68, to characterize the nature of the nodulation suppression by race 1 of the soybean cyst nematode (SCN), Heterodera glycines. Root-halves of each split-root plant were inoculated with Rhizobium japonicum, and one root-half only was inoculated with various numbers of SCN eggs. Nodulation (indicated by nodule number, nodule weights, and ratio of nodule weight to root weight) and nitrogen-fixing capacity (indicated by rate of acetylene reduction) were systemically and variously suppressed on both root-halves of the split-root plant 5 weeks after half-root inoculation with 12,500 SCN eggs. Inoculation with 500 eggs caused this suppression only on the SCN-infected (+NE) root-half; nodulation on the companion uninfected (-NE) root-half was stimulated slightly. The +NE root-halves inoculated with 5,000 eggs were excised at 2-week intervals; nodulation on the remaining -NE root-halves was not different from that of the noninoculated control when measured 6 weeks after the SCN inoculation. Thus, the systemic suppression of nodulation was reversible upon the removal of the SCN. Similarly, application of various levels of KNO₃ to the -NE root-halves of the split-root plant did not alleviate the suppressed nodulation on the companion +NE root-halves, even though plant growth was much improved at certain levels of nitrogen (125 μg N/g soil). This indicated that the localized suppression of nodulation by SCN was caused by factors in addition to poor plant growth.
soybean cyst nematode; Rhizobiura japonicum; Glycine max; nitrogen fixation; split-root technique
Legumes play a vital role in maintaining the nitrogen cycle of the biosphere. They conduct symbiotic nitrogen fixation through endosymbiotic relationships with bacteria in root nodules. However, this and other characteristics of legumes, including mycorrhization, compound leaf development and profuse secondary metabolism, are absent in the typical model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We present LegumeIP (http://plantgrn.noble.org/LegumeIP/), an integrative database for comparative genomics and transcriptomics of model legumes, for studying gene function and genome evolution in legumes. LegumeIP compiles gene and gene family information, syntenic and phylogenetic context and tissue-specific transcriptomic profiles. The database holds the genomic sequences of three model legumes, Medicago truncatula, Glycine max and Lotus japonicus plus two reference plant species, A. thaliana and Populus trichocarpa, with annotations based on UniProt, InterProScan, Gene Ontology and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes databases. LegumeIP also contains large-scale microarray and RNA-Seq-based gene expression data. Our new database is capable of systematic synteny analysis across M. truncatula, G. max, L. japonicas and A. thaliana, as well as construction and phylogenetic analysis of gene families across the five hosted species. Finally, LegumeIP provides comprehensive search and visualization tools that enable flexible queries based on gene annotation, gene family, synteny and relative gene expression.
Long distance signaling is a common phenomenon in animal and plant development. In plants, lateral organs such as nodules and lateral roots are developmentally regulated by root-to-shoot and shoot-to-root long distance signaling. Grafting and split root experiments have been used in the past to study the systemic long distance effect of endogenous and environmental factors, however the potential of these techniques has not been fully realized because data replicates are often limited due to cumbersome and difficult approaches and many plant species with soft tissue are difficult to work with. Hence, developing simple and efficient methods for grafting and split root inoculation in these plants is of great importance.
We report a split root inoculation system for the small legume M. truncatula as well as robust and reliable techniques of inverted-Y grafting and reciprocal grafting. Although the split root technique has been historically used for a variety of experimental purposes, we made it simple, efficient and reproducible for M. truncatula. Using our split root experiments, we showed the systemic long distance suppression of nodulation on a second wild type root inoculated after a delay, as well as the lack of this suppression in mutants defective in autoregulation. We demonstrated inverted-Y grafting as a method to generate plants having two different root genotypes. We confirmed that our grafting method does not affect the normal growth and development of the inserted root; the composite plants maintained normal root morphology and anatomy. Shoot-to-root reciprocal grafts were efficiently made with a modification of this technique and, like standard grafts, demonstrate that the regulatory signal defective in rdn1 mutants acts in the root.
Our split root inoculation protocol shows marked improvement over existing methods in the number and quality of the roots produced. The dual functions of the inverted-Y grafting approach are demonstrated: it is a useful system to produce a plant having roots of two different genotypes and is also more efficient than published shoot-to-root reciprocal grafting techniques. Both techniques together allow dissection of long distance plant developmental regulation with very simple, efficient and reproducible approaches.
Split root; Inverted-Y; Grafting; Nodulation; Long-distance signaling; Systemic signaling; Medicago truncatula; RDN1
Bacteria belonging to the genera Rhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Sinorhizobium, Bradyrhizobium, and Azorhizobium (collectively referred to as rhizobia) grow in the soil as free-living organisms but can also live as nitrogen-fixing symbionts inside root nodule cells of legume plants. The interactions between several rhizobial species and their host plants have become models for this type of nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. Temperate legumes such as alfalfa, pea, and vetch form indeterminate nodules that arise from root inner and middle cortical cells and grow out from the root via a persistent meristem. During the formation of functional indeterminate nodules, symbiotic bacteria must gain access to the interior of the host root. To get from the outside to the inside, rhizobia grow and divide in tubules called infection threads, which are composite structures derived from the two symbiotic partners. This review focuses on symbiotic infection and invasion during the formation of indeterminate nodules. It summarizes root hair growth, how root hair growth is influenced by rhizobial signaling molecules, infection of root hairs, infection thread extension down root hairs, infection thread growth into root tissue, and the plant and bacterial contributions necessary for infection thread formation and growth. The review also summarizes recent advances concerning the growth dynamics of rhizobial populations in infection threads.
In Rhizobium-legume symbiosis, the plant host controls and optimizes the nodulation process by autoregulation. Tn5 mutants of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. phaseoli TAL 182 which are impaired at various stages of symbiotic development, were used to examine autoregulation in the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Class I mutants were nonnodulating, class II mutants induced small, distinct swellings on the roots, and a class III mutant formed pink, bacterium-containing, but ineffective nodules. A purine mutant (Ade-) was nonnodulating, while a pyrimidine mutant (Ura-) formed small swellings on the roots. Amino acid mutants (Leu-, Phe-, and Cys-) formed mostly empty white nodules. Each of the mutants was used as a primary inoculant on one side of a split-root system to assess its ability to suppress secondary nodulation by the wild type on the other side. All mutants with defects in nodulation ability, regardless of the particular stage of blockage, failed to induce a suppression response from the host. Only the nodulation-competent, bacterium-containing, but ineffective class III mutant induced a suppression response similar to that induced by the wild type. Suppression was correlated with the ability of the microsymbiont to proliferate inside the nodules but not with the ability to initiate nodule formation or the ability to fix nitrogen. Thus, the presence of bacteria inside the nodules may be required for the induction of nodulation suppression in the common bean.
The tropical legume Sesbania rostrata can be nodulated by Azorhizobium caulinodans on both its stem and its root system. Here we investigate in detail the process of root nodulation and show that nodules develop exclusively at the base of secondary roots. Intercellular infection leads to the formation of infection pockets, which then give rise to infection threads. Concomitantly with infection, cortical cells of the secondary roots dedifferentiate, forming a meristem which has an "open-basket" configuration and which surrounds the initial infection site. Bacteria are released from the tips of infection threads into plant cells via "infection droplets," each containing several bacteria. Initially, nodule differentiation is comparable to that of indeterminate nodules, with the youngest meristematic cells being located at the periphery and the nitrogen-fixing cells being located at the nodule center. Because of the peculiar form of the meristem, Sesbania root nodules develop uniformly around a central axis. Nitrogen fixation is detected as early as 3 days following inoculation, while the nodule meristem is still active. Two weeks after inoculation, meristematic activity ceases, and nodules then show the typical histology of determinate nodules. Thus, root nodule organogenesis in S. rostrata appears to be intermediate between indeterminate and determinate types.
The interactions of legumes with symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria cause the formation of specialized lateral root organs called root nodules. It has been postulated that this root nodule symbiosis system has recruited factors that act in early signaling pathways (common SYM genes) partly from the ancestral mycorrhizal symbiosis. However, the origins of factors needed for root nodule organogenesis are largely unknown. NODULE INCEPTION (NIN) is a nodulation-specific gene that encodes a putative transcription factor and acts downstream of the common SYM genes. Here, we identified two Nuclear Factor-Y (NF-Y) subunit genes, LjNF-YA1 and LjNF-YB1, as transcriptional targets of NIN in Lotus japonicus. These genes are expressed in root nodule primordia and their translational products interact in plant cells, indicating that they form an NF-Y complex in root nodule primordia. The knockdown of LjNF-YA1 inhibited root nodule organogenesis, as did the loss of function of NIN. Furthermore, we found that NIN overexpression induced root nodule primordium-like structures that originated from cortical cells in the absence of bacterial symbionts. Thus, NIN is a crucial factor responsible for initiating nodulation-specific symbiotic processes. In addition, ectopic expression of either NIN or the NF-Y subunit genes caused abnormal cell division during lateral root development. This indicated that the Lotus NF-Y subunits can function to stimulate cell division. Thus, transcriptional regulation by NIN, including the activation of the NF-Y subunit genes, induces cortical cell division, which is an initial step in root nodule organogenesis. Unlike the legume-specific NIN protein, NF-Y is a major CCAAT box binding protein complex that is widespread among eukaryotes. We propose that the evolution of root nodules in legume plants was associated with changes in the function of NIN. NIN has acquired functions that allow it to divert pathways involved in the regulation of cell division to root nodule organogenesis.
Legumes produce nodules in roots as the endosymbiotic organs for nitrogen-fixing bacteria, collectively called rhizobia. The symbiotic relationship enables legumes to survive on soil with poor nitrogen sources. The rhizobial infection triggers cell division in the cortex to generate root nodule primordia. The root nodule symbiosis has been thought to be recruited factors for the early signaling pathway from the ancestral mycorrhizal symbiosis, which usually does not accompany the root nodule formation. However, how the root nodule symbiosis-specific pathway inputs nodulation signals to molecular networks, by which cortical cell division is initiated, has not yet been elucidated. We found that NIN, a nodulation specific factor, induced cortical cell division without the rhizobial infection. NIN acted as a transcriptional activator and targeted two genes that encode different subunits of a NF-Y CCAAT box binding protein complex, LjNF-YA1 and LjNF-YB1. Inhibition of the LjNF-YA1 function prevented root nodule formation. Ectopic expression of the NF-Y subunit genes enhanced cell division in lateral root primordia that is not related to root nodule organogenesis. The NF-Y genes are thought to regulate cell division downstream of NIN. NF-Y is a general factor widespread in eukaryotes. We propose that NIN is a mediator between nodulation-specific signals and general regulatory mechanisms associated with cell proliferation.
Valera, Concepcion L. (Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.), and M. Alexander. Nodulation factor for Rhizobium-legume symbiosis. J. Bacteriol. 89:1134–1139. 1965.—Nodulation of excised roots of Medicago sativa was enhanced by an extract of alfalfa seeds but not by several other substances. Coconut water exerted a similar influence upon the formation of nodules on excised roots of Glycine max and Phaseolus vulgaris. Direct evidence for a host factor concerned in nodule genesis was obtained by demonstrating that, although P. vulgaris seedlings developing from embryos devoid of cotyledons nodulated in the presence of an infective Rhizobium strain, nodules did not appear on explants derived from hypocotyls obtained from ungerminated seed. The legume factor, when examined by a soybean hypocotyl bioassay procedure, could be replaced by a water-soluble, thermostable, dialyzable fraction of coconut water, but not by meso-inositol, scyllitol, sorbitol, yeast extract, or a number of amino acids.
Over the last several decades, there have been a large number of studies done on the all aspects of legumes and bacteria which participate in nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. The analysis of legume–bacteria interaction is not just a matter of numerical complexity in terms of variants of gene products that can arise from a single gene. Bacteria regulate their quorum-sensing genes to enhance their ability to induce conjugation of plasmids and symbiotic islands, and various protein secretion mechanisms; that can stimulate a collection of chain reactions including species-specific combinations of plant-secretion isoflavonoids, complicated calcium signaling pathways and autoregulation of nodulation mechanisms. Quorum-sensing systems are introduced by the intra- and intercellular organization of gene products lead to protein–protein interactions or targeting of proteins to specific cellular structures. In this study, an attempt has been made to review significant contributions related to nodule formation and development and their impacts on cell proteome for better understanding of plant–bacterium interaction mechanism at protein level. This review would not only provide new insights into the plant–bacteria symbiosis response mechanisms but would also highlights the importance of studying changes in protein abundance inside and outside of cells in response to symbiosis. Furthermore, the application to agriculture program of plant–bacteria interaction will be discussed.
proteomics; legumes; bacteria; symbiosis; nodule development
Biological nitrogen fixation in root nodules is a process of great importance to crops of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.], as it may provide the bulk of the plant’s needs for nitrogen. Legume nodulation involves several complex steps and, although studied for many decades, much remains to be understood.
This research aimed at analyzing the global expression of genes in soybean roots of a Brazilian cultivar (Conquista) inoculated with Bradyrhizobium japonicum CPAC 15, a strain broadly used in commercial inoculants in Brazil. To achieve this, we used the suppressive subtractive hybridization (SSH) technique combined with Illumina sequencing. The subtractive library (non-inoculated x inoculated) of soybean roots resulted in 3,210 differentially expressed transcripts at 10 days after inoculation were studied. The data were grouped according to the ontologies of the molecular functions and biological processes. Several classes of genes were confirmed as related to N2 fixation and others were reported for the first time.
During nodule formation, a higher percentage of genes were related to primary metabolism, cell-wall modifications and the antioxidant defense system. Putative symbiotic functions were attributed to some of these genes for the first time.
Subtractive library; Differential expression of genes; Nodulation
Fluorescent tagging of nodule bacteria forming symbioses with legume host plants represents a tool for vital tracking of bacteria inside the symbiotic root nodules and monitoring changes in gene activity. The constitutive expression of heterologous fluorescent proteins, such as green fluorescent protein (GFP), also allows screening for nodule occupancy by a particular strain. Imaging of the fluorescence signal on a macro-scale is associated with technical problems due to the robustness of nodule tissues and a high level of autofluorescence.
These limitations can be reduced by the use of a model species with a fine root system, such as Vicia tetrasperma. Further increases in the sensitivity and specificity of the detection and in image resolution can be attained by the use of a fluorescence scanner. Compared with the standard CCD-type cameras, the availability of a laser source of a specified excitation wavelength decreases non-specific autofluorescence while the photomultiplier tubes in emission detection significantly increase sensitivity. The large scanning area combined with a high resolution allow us to visualize individual nodules during the scan of whole root systems. Using a fluorescence scanner with excitation wavelength of 488 nm, a band-pass specific emission channel of 532 nm and a long-pass background channel of 555 nm, it was possible to distinguish nodules occupied by a rhizobial strain marked with one copy of cycle3 GFP from nodules colonized by the wild-type strain.
The main limitation of the current plant model and GFP with the wild-type emission peak at 409 nm is a sharp increase in root autofluorescence below 550 nm. The selectivity of the technique can be enhanced by the use of red-shifted fluorophores and the contrasting labelling of the variants, provided that the excitation (482 nm) and emission (737 nm) maxima corresponding to root chlorophyll are respected.
Green fluorescent protein; in-depth imaging; nodule; Rhizobium; symbiosis; Vicia tetrasperma
Encoding a conserved protein of unknown function, the Medicago truncatula RDN1 gene is involved in autoregulation of nodulation through signaling in the root. In contrast, the SUNN kinase in M. truncatula has been shown by grafting of mutant scions to control nodule number in the root by communication of a signal from the shoot to the root. GUS staining patterns resulting from expression of the SUNN promoter fused to uidA showed expression of SUNN in most parts of plant including the root, but confined to the vascular tissue, a pattern that overlaps with that published for RDN1. Real Time qRT-PCR analysis showed levels of both SUNN RNA and RDN1 RNA did not change significantly during early nodulation signaling (0–72 h after inoculation). The similarity in expression in cell types strongly suggests vascular signaling for nodule number regulation, while the lack of changes over early nodule development suggest post transcriptional mechanisms such as protein association or phosphorylation transmit the signal.
autoregulation of nodulation; gene expression; nodulation
Nitrogen, particularly nitrate is an important yield determinant for crops. However, current agricultural practice with excessive fertilizer usage has detrimental effects on the environment. Therefore, legumes have been suggested as a sustainable alternative for replenishing soil nitrogen. Legumes can uniquely form nitrogen-fixing nodules through symbiotic interaction with specialized soil bacteria. Legumes possess a highly plastic root system which modulates its architecture according to the nitrogen availability in the soil. Understanding how legumes regulate root development in response to nitrogen availability is an important step to improving root architecture. The nitrogen-mediated root development pathway starts with sensing soil nitrogen level followed by subsequent signal transduction pathways involving phytohormones, microRNAs and regulatory peptides that collectively modulate the growth and shape of the root system. This review focuses on the current understanding of nitrogen-mediated legume root architecture including local and systemic regulations by different N-sources and the modulations by phytohormones and small regulatory molecules.
nitrogen regulation; legumes; root development; lateral root; nodulation; phytohormone; microRNA; small regulatory peptides
Legumes have the unique ability to host nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria as symbiosomes inside root nodule cells. To get insight into this key process, which forms the heart of the endosymbiosis, we isolated specific cells/tissues at different stages of symbiosome formation from nodules of the model legume Medicago truncatula using laser-capture microdissection. Next, we determined their associated expression profiles using Affymetrix Medicago GeneChips. Cells were collected from the nodule infection zone divided into a distal (where symbiosome formation and division occur) and proximal region (where symbiosomes are mainly differentiating), as well as infected cells from the fixation zone containing mature nitrogen fixing symbiosomes. As non-infected cells/tissue we included nodule meristem cells and uninfected cells from the fixation zone. Here, we present a comprehensive gene expression map of an indeterminate Medicago nodule and selected genes that show specific enriched expression in the different cells or tissues. Validation of the obtained expression profiles, by comparison to published gene expression profiles and experimental verification, indicates that the data can be used as digital “in situ”. This digital “in situ” offers a genome-wide insight into genes specifically associated with subsequent stages of symbiosome and nodule cell development, and can serve to guide future functional studies.
The nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between legume plants and Rhizobium bacteria is the most prominent plant–microbe endosymbiotic system and, together with mycorrhizal fungi, has critical importance in agriculture. The introduction of two model legume species, Lotus japonicus and Medicago truncatula, has enabled us to identify a number of host legume genes required for symbiosis. A total of 26 genes have so far been cloned from various symbiotic mutants of these model legumes, which are involved in recognition of rhizobial nodulation signals, early symbiotic signaling cascades, infection and nodulation processes, and regulation of nitrogen fixation. These accomplishments during the past decade provide important clues to understanding not only the molecular mechanisms underlying plant–microbe endosymbiotic associations but also the evolutionary aspects of nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between legume plants and Rhizobium bacteria. In this review we survey recent progress in molecular genetic studies using these model legumes.
Lotus japonicus; Medicago truncatula; Model legumes; Nitrogen fixation; Nodules; Plant–microbe symbiosis
The influence of nematodes on nodulation of soybean varied according to their modes of parasitism. In the greenhouse, nodule formation was stimulated by the endoparasites, Meloidogyne hapla and Pratylenchus penetrans, but was inhibited slightly by the ectoparasite, Belonolaimus longicaudatus. In an experiment under controlled conditions in a phytotron, Heterodera glycines severely inhibited nodule formation, whereas plants inoculated with B. longicaudatus and P. penetrans had more nodules per g root than nematode-free plants. Nitrogen-fixing capacity, however, was inhibited by all three nematode species. Different light sources used in the phytotron experiment also influenced growth and nodulation of soybean. A fluorescent plus incandescent light regime resulted in plants with the greatest shoot weight, pod number, and nodules per g root. Plants grown under Lucalox lamps had excessive stem elongation.
Meloidogyne species; Belonolaimus longicaudatus; Pratylenchus penetrans; Glycine max; nitrogen fixation; Rhizobium
The role of S in legume growth, N uptake, and N2 fixation was investigated using white clover (Trifolium repens L.) as a model species. We examined whether the effect of sulphate addition on N fixation resulted from a stimulation of host plant growth, a specific effect of S on nodulation, or a specific effect of S on nodule metabolism. Clones of white clover, inoculated with Rhizobium leguminosarum, were grown for 140 d in a hydroponic system with three levels of sulphate concentration (0 mM, 0.095 mM, and 0.380 mM). Nodule morphological and biochemical traits, such as root length, nodule biomass and volume, nodule protein contents (nitrogenase and leghaemoglobin obtained by an immunological approach), and root amino acid concentrations, were used to analyse the effect of sulphate availability on N2 fixation. The application of sulphate increased whole plant dry mass, root length, and nodule biomass, expressed on a root-length basis. N uptake proved less sensitive than N2 fixation to the effects of S-deficiency, and decreased as a consequence of the lower root length observed in S-deficient plants. N2 fixation was drastically reduced in S-deficient plants as a consequence of a low nodule development, but also due to low nitrogenase and leghaemoglobin production. This effect is likely to be due to down-regulation by a N-feedback mechanism, as, under severe S-deficiency, the high concentration of whole plant N and the accumulation of N-rich amino acids (such as asparagine) indicated that the assimilation of N exceeded the amount required for plant growth.
Amino acids; legumes; N2-fixation; nitrogenase; nodules; sulphur (S) deficiency