Lipochitin oligosaccharides (LCOs) are signaling molecules required by ecologically and agronomically important bacteria and fungi to establish symbioses with diverse land plants. In plants, oligo-chitins and LCOs can differentially interact with different lysin motif (LysM) receptors and affect innate immunity responses or symbiosis-related pathways. In animals, oligo-chitins also induce innate immunity and other physiological responses but LCO recognition has not been demonstrated. Here LCO and LCO-like compounds are shown to be biologically active in mammals in a structure dependent way through the modulation of angiogenesis, a tightly-regulated process involving the induction and growth of new blood vessels from existing vessels. The testing of 24 LCO, LCO-like or oligo-chitin compounds resulted in structure-dependent effects on angiogenesis in vitro leading to promotion, or inhibition or nil effects. Like plants, the mammalian LCO biological activity depended upon the presence and type of terminal substitutions. Un-substituted oligo-chitins of similar chain lengths were unable to modulate angiogenesis indicating that mammalian cells, like plant cells, can distinguish between LCOs and un-substituted oligo-chitins. The cellular mode-of-action of the biologically active LCOs in mammals was determined. The stimulation or inhibition of endothelial cell adhesion to vitronectin or fibronectin correlated with their pro- or anti-angiogenic activity. Importantly, novel and more easily synthesised LCO-like disaccharide molecules were also biologically active and de-acetylated chitobiose was shown to be the primary structural basis of recognition. Given this, simpler chitin disaccharides derivatives based on the structure of biologically active LCOs were synthesised and purified and these showed biological activity in mammalian cells. Since important chronic disease states are linked to either insufficient or excessive angiogenesis, LCO and LCO-like molecules may have the potential to be a new, carbohydrate-based class of therapeutics for modulating angiogenesis.
With the ever-increasing population of the world (expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050), and altered life style, comes an increased demand for food, fuel and fiber. However, scarcity of land, water and energy accompanied by climate change means that to produce enough to meet the demands is getting increasingly challenging. Today we must use every avenue from science and technology available to address these challenges. The natural process of symbiotic nitrogen fixation, whereby plants such as legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen gas to ammonia, usable by plants can have a substantial impact as it is found in nature, has low environmental and economic costs and is broadly established. Here we look at the importance of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in the production of biofuel feedstocks; how this process can address major challenges, how improving nitrogen fixation is essential, and what we can do about it.
biofuel; legumes; life-cycle analysis; nitrogen fixation
Gene duplication in evolution has long been viewed as a mechanism for functional divergence. We recently cloned two related lipo-oligochitin receptor genes (GmNFR1α and GmNFR1β) in Glycine max (soybean) that allowed the distinction of two nodulation factor (NF) responses during early legume nodule ontogeny, namely invasion of the root hair and concomitant cortical cell divisions. Root-controlled GmNFR1α mutants nod49 and rj1 failed to form curled root hairs, infection threads and nodules but develop subepidermal cortical cell divisions (CCD) and mycorrhizal associations. In contrast GmNFR1β mutant PI437.654 had full symbiotic abilities. However, GmNFR1α mutants formed normal nodules at reduced frequency when inoculated with high Bradyrhizobium titers. The mutation was complemented in Agrobacterium rhizogenes K599 transformed roots using both CaMV 35S and the native GmNFR1α promoters. GmNFR1α may encode a high affinity NF receptor responsible for the entire nodulation cascade while GmNFR1β with lower affinity to NF suffices to induce cell divisions but not early infection events.
gene duplication; LysM receptor kinase; Glycine max L. Merr.; nodulation; cell division; cell invasion
Vermiculite is the most common soil-free growing substrate used for plants in horticultural and scientific studies due to its high water holding capacity. However, some studies are not suitable to be conducted in it. The described experiments aimed to test the suitability of vermiculite to study the effect of acidity on nodulation and growth of soybean (Glycine max L.).
Two different nutrient solutions (Broughton & Dilworth, and modified Herridge nutrient solutions) with or without MES buffer addition were used to irrigate soybean grown on vermiculite growth substrates. The pH of nutrient solutions was adjusted to either pH 4.0 or 7.0 prior its use. The nodulation and vegetative growth of soybean plants were assessed at 3 and 4 weeks after inoculation.
The unsuitability of presumably inert vermiculite as a physical plant growth substrate for studying the effects of acidity on soybean nodulation and plant growth was illustrated. Nodulation and growth of soybean grown in vermiculite were not affected by irrigation with pH-adjusted nutrient solution either at pH 4.0 or 7.0. This was reasonably caused by the ability of vermiculite to neutralise (buffer) the pH of the supplied nutrient solution (pH 2.0 – 7.0).
Due to its buffering capacity, vermiculite cannot be used as growth support to study the effect of acidity on nodulation and plant growth.
Acidity; Buffer; Nodulation; Soybean; Vermiculite
The gaseous hormone ethylene has multiple roles in plant development and responses to external cues. Among these is the regulation of ‘Rhizobium’-induced nodulation in legumes. Extensive descriptive literature exists, but has been expanded to allow more mechanistic analysis through the application of genetics. Both mutants and transgenics displaying ethylene insensitivity have now been described, suggesting an intimate interplay of ethylene response, plant development and nodulation.
ethylene; legume; mutant; nodulation; receptor; symbiosis; transgenics
Legumes represent some of the most important crop species worldwide. They are able to form novel root organs known as nodules, within which biological nitrogen fixation is facilitated through a symbiotic interaction with soil-dwelling bacteria called rhizobia. This provides legumes with a distinct advantage over other plant species, as nitrogen is a key factor for growth and development. Nodule formation is tightly regulated by the plant and can be inhibited by a number of external factors, such as soil pH. This is of significant agricultural and economic importance as much of global legume crops are grown on low pH soils. Despite this, the precise mechanism by which low pH conditions inhibits nodule development remains poorly characterized.
legume nodulation; rhizobia; nitrogen fixation; plant signalling and development; symbiosis; soil pH; soil acidity
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
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.
Pongamia pinnata (syn. Millettia pinnata) is a novel, fast-growing arboreal legume that bears prolific quantities of oil-rich seeds suitable for the production of biodiesel and aviation biofuel. Here, we have used Illumina® ‘Second Generation DNA Sequencing (2GS)’ and a new short-read de novo assembler, SaSSY, to assemble and annotate the Pongamia chloroplast (152,968 bp; cpDNA) and mitochondrial (425,718 bp; mtDNA) genomes. We also show that SaSSY can be used to accurately assemble 2GS data, by re-assembling the Lotus japonicus cpDNA and in the process assemble its mtDNA (380,861 bp). The Pongamia cpDNA contains 77 unique protein-coding genes and is almost 60% gene-dense. It contains a 50 kb inversion common to other legumes, as well as a novel 6.5 kb inversion that is responsible for the non-disruptive, re-orientation of five protein-coding genes. Additionally, two copies of an inverted repeat firmly place the species outside the subclade of the Fabaceae lacking the inverted repeat. The Pongamia and L. japonicus mtDNA contain just 33 and 31 unique protein-coding genes, respectively, and like other angiosperm mtDNA, have expanded intergenic and multiple repeat regions. Through comparative analysis with Vigna radiata we measured the average synonymous and non-synonymous divergence of all three legume mitochondrial (1.59% and 2.40%, respectively) and chloroplast (8.37% and 8.99%, respectively) protein-coding genes. Finally, we explored the relatedness of Pongamia within the Fabaceae and showed the utility of the organellar genome sequences by mapping transcriptomic data to identify up- and down-regulated stress-responsive gene candidates and confirm in silico predicted RNA editing sites.
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
Background and Aims
Autoregulation of nodulation is a long-distance shoot–root signalling regulatory system that regulates nodule meristem proliferation in legume plants. However, due to the intricacy and subtleness of the signalling nature in plants, molecular and biochemical details underlying mechanisms of autoregulation of nodulation remain largely unknown. The purpose of this study is to use functional–structural plant modelling to investigate the complexity of this signalling system. There are two major challenges to be met: modelling the 3D architecture of legume roots with nodulation and co-ordinating signalling-developmental processes with various rates.
Soybean (Glycine max) was chosen as the target legume. Its root system was observed to capture lateral root branching and nodule distribution patterns. L-studio, a software tool supporting context-sensitive L-system modelling, was used for the construction of the architectural model and integration with the internal signalling.
A branching pattern with regular radial angles was found between soybean lateral roots, from which a root mapping method was developed to characterize the laterals. Nodules were mapped based on ‘nodulation section’ to reveal nodule distribution. A root elongation algorithm was then developed for simulation of root development. Based on the use of standard sub-modules, a synchronization algorithm was developed to co-ordinate multi-rate signalling and developmental processes.
The modelling methods developed here not only allow recreation of legume root architecture with lateral branching and nodulation details, but also enable parameterization of internal signalling to produce different regulation results. This provides the basis for using virtual experiments to help in investigating the signalling mechanisms at work.
Legume; soybean; soya bean; virtual plant; L-system; root reconstruction; synchronization; nodulation
Background and Aims
Transgenics are used to demonstrate a causal relationship between ethylene insensitivity of a seedling legume plant, the level of ethylene receptor gene expression, lateral root growth and Mesorhizobium loti-induced nodule initiation.
Lotus japonicus plants expressing the dominant etr1-1 allele of the Arabidopsis thaliana gene encoding a well-characterized mutated ethylene receptor were created by stable Agrobacterium tumefaciens transformation. Single insertion, homozygous lines were characterized for symbiotic properties.
Transgenic plants were ethylene insensitive as judged by the lack of the ‘Triple Response’, and their continued ability to grow and nodulate in the presence of inhibitory concentrations of ACC (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid; an ethylene precursor). Transgenic plants with high insensitivity to ACC had significantly fewer lateral roots and exhibited increased nodulation while showing no altered nitrate sensitivity or lack of systemic autoregulation. Whereas ACC-insensitive shoot growth and nodulation were observed in transformants, root growth was inhibited similarly to the wild type. Increased nodulation was caused by increased infection and a seven-fold increase in nodules developing between xylem poles. Bacteroid numbers per symbiosome increased about 1·7-fold in ethylene-insensitive plants.
The study further demonstrates multiple roles for ethylene in nodule initiation by influencing root cell infections and radial positioning, independent of autoregulation and nitrate inhibition of nodulation.
Ethylene insensitivity; Lotus japonicus; symbiosis; phytohormone; nodulation; signal transduction
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.
Pollen, the male partner in the reproduction of flowering plants, comprises either two or three cells at maturity. The current knowledge of the pollen transcriptome is limited to the model plant systems Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa which have tri-cellular pollen grains at maturity. Comparative studies on pollen of other genera, particularly crop plants, are needed to understand the pollen gene networks that are subject to functional and evolutionary conservation. In this study, we used the Affymetrix Soybean GeneChip® to perform transcriptional profiling on mature bi-cellular soybean pollen.
Compared to the sporophyte transcriptome, the soybean pollen transcriptome revealed a restricted and unique repertoire of genes, with a significantly greater proportion of specifically expressed genes than is found in the sporophyte tissue. Comparative analysis shows that, among the 37,500 soybean transcripts addressed in this study, 10,299 transcripts (27.46%) are expressed in pollen. Of the pollen-expressed sequences, about 9,489 (92.13%) are also expressed in sporophytic tissues, and 810 (7.87%) are selectively expressed in pollen. Overall, the soybean pollen transcriptome shows an enrichment of transcription factors (mostly zinc finger family proteins), signal recognition receptors, transporters, heat shock-related proteins and members of the ubiquitin proteasome proteolytic pathway.
This is the first report of a soybean pollen transcriptional profile. These data extend our current knowledge regarding regulatory pathways that govern the gene regulation and development of pollen. A comparison between transcription factors up-regulated in soybean and those in Arabidopsis revealed some divergence in the numbers and kinds of regulatory proteins expressed in both species.
Plants encode a large number of leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases. Legumes encode several LRR-RLK linked to the process of root nodule formation, the ligands of which are unknown. To identify ligands for these receptors, we used a combination of profile hidden Markov models and position-specific iterative BLAST, allowing us to detect new members of the CLV3/ESR (CLE) protein family from publicly available sequence databases.
We identified 114 new members of the CLE protein family from various plant species, as well as five protein sequences containing multiple CLE domains. We were able to cluster the CLE domain proteins into 13 distinct groups based on their pairwise similarities in the primary CLE motif. In addition, we identified secondary motifs that coincide with our sequence clusters. The groupings based on the CLE motifs correlate with known biological functions of CLE signaling peptides and are analogous to groupings based on phylogenetic analysis and ectopic overexpression studies. We tested the biological function of two of the predicted CLE signaling peptides in the legume Medicago truncatula. These peptides inhibit the activity of the root apical and lateral root meristems in a manner consistent with our functional predictions based on other CLE signaling peptides clustering in the same groups.
Our analysis provides an identification and classification of a large number of novel potential CLE signaling peptides. The additional motifs we found could lead to future discovery of recognition sites for processing peptidases as well as predictions for receptor binding specificity.
A report on the conference 'Plant and Animal Genomes XIII', San Diego, USA, 15-19 January 2005.
A report on the conference 'Plant and Animal Genomes XIII', San Diego, USA, 15-19 January 2005.
Several legume genes involved in establishing nitrogen fixation have been discovered using functional genomics; when mutated, the genes affect symbioses, and all encode receptor kinases.
Several legume genes involved in establishing nitrogen fixation have been discovered using functional genomics; when mutated, the genes affect symbioses, and all encode receptor kinases. This provides long-awaited insights into a complex plant-bacterium interaction and heralds the possibility of extending the range of plants susceptible to nitrogen-fixing nodulation.
We compared the formation of nodules on the primary roots of a soybean cultivar (Glycine max (L.) Merr. cv. Bragg) and a supernodulating mutant derivative, nts382. Inoculation with Bradyrhizobium japonicum USDA 110 at different times after seed imbibition showed that the roots acquired full susceptibility to infection only between 3 and 4 days postgermination. When the plants were inoculated with serial dilutions of a bacterial suspension, the number of nodules formed in the initially susceptible region of the roots was linearly dependent on the logarithm of the inoculum dose until an optimum dose was reached. At least 10-fold-lower doses were required to induce half-maximal nodulation responses on nts382 than on the wild type. However, at optimal doses, about six times as many nodules formed in the initially susceptible region of the roots in nts382. Since there was no appreciable difference in the apparent rates of nodule emergence, the increased efficiency of nodule initiation in the supernodulating mutant could have resulted from a lower threshold of response to bacterial symbiotic signals. Two inoculations (24 h apart) of G. max cv. Bragg revealed that there was a host-mediated regulatory response that suppressed nodulation in younger portions of the primary roots, as reported previously for other soybean cultivar-Bradyrhizobium combinations. Similar experiments with nts382 revealed a comparable suppressive response, but this response was not as pronounced as it was in the wild type. This and other results suggest that there are additional control mechanisms for nodulation that are different from the systemic autoregulatory control of nodulation altered in supernodulating mutants.