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1.  An Italian functional genomic resource for Medicago truncatula 
BMC Research Notes  2008;1:129.
Medicago truncatula is a model species for legumes. Its functional genomics have been considerably boosted in recent years due to initiatives based both in Europe and US. Collections of mutants are becoming increasingly available and this will help unravel the genetic control of important traits for many species of legumes.
Our report is on the production of three complementary mutant collections of the model species Medicago truncatula produced in Italy in the frame of a national genomic initiative. Well established strategies were used: Tnt1 mutagenesis, TILLING and activation tagging. Both forward and reverse genetics screenings proved the efficiency of the mutagenesis approaches adopted, enabling the isolation of interesting mutants which are in course of characterization. We anticipate that the reported collections will be complementary to the recently established functional genomics tools developed for Medicago truncatula both in Europe and in the United States.
PMCID: PMC2633015  PMID: 19077311
2.  Using an Ecophysiological Analysis to Dissect Genetic Variability and to Propose an Ideotype for Nitrogen Nutrition in Pea 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(7):1525-1536.
Backgrounds and Aims
Nitrogen nutrition of legumes, which relies both on atmospheric N2 and soil mineral N, remains a major limiting factor of growth. A decade ago, breeders tried to increase N uptake through hypernodulation. Despite their high nodule biomass, hypernodulating mutants were never shown to accumulate more nitrogen than wild types; they even generally displayed depressed shoot growth. The aim of this study was to dissect genetic variability associated with N nutrition in relation to C nutrition, using an ecophysiological framework and to propose an ideotype for N nutrition in pea.
Five pea genotypes (Pisum sativum) characterized by contrasting root and nodule biomasses were grown in the field. Variability among genotypes in dry matter and N accumulation was analysed, considering both the structures involved in N acquisition in terms of root and nodule biomass and their efficiency, in terms of N accumulated through mineral N absorption or symbiotic N2 fixation per amount of root or nodule biomass, respectively.
Key Results
Nodule efficiency of hypernodulating mutants was negatively correlated to nodule biomass, presumably due to the high carbon costs induced by their excessive nodule formation. Root efficiency was only negatively correlated to root biomass before the beginning of the seed-filling stage, suggesting competition for carbon between root formation and functioning during the early stages of growth. This was no longer the case after the beginning of the seed-filling stage and nitrate absorption was then positively correlated to root biomass.
Due to the high C costs induced by nodule formation and its detrimental effect on shoot and root growth, selecting traits for the improvement of N acquisition by legumes must be engineered (a) considering inter-relationships between C and N metabolisms and (b) in terms of temporal complementarities between N2 fixation and nitrate absorption rather than through direct increase of nodule and/or root biomass.
PMCID: PMC2759225  PMID: 17921490
Pisum sativum; nodules; roots; symbiotic N2 fixation; genetic variability; C and N nutrition
3.  Genetic Variability in Nodulation and Root Growth Affects Nitrogen Fixation and Accumulation in Pea 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(3):589-598.
Background and Aims
Legume nitrogen is derived from two different sources, symbiotically fixed atmospheric N2 and soil N. The effect of genetic variability of root and nodule establishment on N acquisition and seed protein yield was investigated under field conditions in pea (Pisum sativum). In addition, these parameters were related to the variability in preference for rhizobial genotypes.
Five different spring pea lines (two hypernodulating mutants and three cultivars), previously identified in artificial conditions as contrasted for both root and nodule development, were characterized under field conditions. Root and nodule establishment was examined from the four-leaf stage up to the beginning of seed filling and was related to the patterns of shoot dry matter and nitrogen accumulation. The genetic structure of rhizobial populations associated with the pea lines was obtained by analysis of nodule samples. The fraction of nitrogen derived from symbiotic fixation was estimated at the beginning of seed filling and at physiological maturity, when seed protein content and yield were determined.
Key Results
The hypernodulating mutants established nodules earlier and maintained them longer than was the case for the three cultivars, whereas their root development and nitrogen accumulation were lower. The seed protein yield was higher in ‘Athos’ and ‘Austin’, the two cultivars with increased root development, consistent with their higher N absorption during seed filling.
The hypernodulating mutants did not accumulate more nitrogen, probably due to the C cost for nodulation being higher than for root development. Enhancing exogenous nitrogen supply at the end of the growth cycle, by increasing the potential for root N uptake from soil, seems a good option for improving pea seed filling.
PMCID: PMC2533614  PMID: 17670753
Pisum sativum; hypernodulating mutants; nodules; roots; nitrogen fixation; mineral nitrogen absorption; seed protein content; Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae

Results 1-3 (3)