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Signaling and Gene Expression for Water-Tolerant Legume Nodulation

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In the symbiotic interaction with rhizobia, legumes develop nodules in which nitrogen fixation takes place. Upon submersion, most temperate legumes are incapable of nodulation, but tropical legumes that grow in waterlogged soils have acquired water stress tolerance for growth and nodulation. One well-studied model plant, the tropical, semi-aquatic Sesbania rostrata , develops stem-located adventitious root primordia that grow out into adventitious roots upon submergence and develop into stem nodules after inoculation with the microsymbiont, Azorhizobium caulinodans. Sesbania rostrata also has a nodulated underground root system. On well-aerated roots, nodules form via root hair curling infection in the zone, just above the root tip, where root hairs develop; on hydroponic roots, an alternative process is used, recruiting a cortical intercellular invasion program at the lateral root bases that skips the epidermal responses. This intercellular cortical invasion entails infection pocket formation, a process that involves cell death features and reactive oxygen species. The plant hormones ethylene and gibberellin are the major signals that act downstream from the bacterial nodulation factors in the nodulation and invasion program. Both hormones block root hair curling infection, but cooperate to stimulate lateral root base invasion and play a role in infection thread formation, meristem establishment, and differentiation of meristem descendants.
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Keywords: Sesbania rostrata; aquatic legumes; ethylene; intercellular invasion; nodulation; reactive oxygen species; submergence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Plant Systems Biology, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), Ghent University, Technologiepark 927, Gent, B-9052, Belgium

Publication date: 01 July 2006

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