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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2003

Regulation of nodulation in the absence of N-2 is different in actinorhizal plants with different infection pathways

Wall LG, Valverde C, Huss-Danell K


Root nodulation in actinorhizal plants, like Discaria trinervis and Alnus incana, is subject to feedback regulatory mechanisms that control infection by Frankia and nodule development. Nodule pattern in the root system is controlled by an autoregulatory process that is induced soon after inoculation with Frankia. The final number of nodules, as well as nodule biomass in relation to plant biomass, are both modulated by a second mechanism which seems to be related to the N status of the plant. Mature nodules are, in part, involved in the latter process, since nodule excision from the root system releases the inhibition of infection and nodule development. To study the effect of N-2 fixation in this process, nodulated D. trinervis and A. incana plants were incubated under a N-2-free atmosphere. Discaria trinervis is an intercellularly infected species while A. incana is infected intracellularly, via root hairs. Both symbioses responded with an increment in nodule biomass, but with different strategies. Discaria trinervis increased the biomass of existing nodules without significant development of new nodules, while in A. incana nodule biomass increased due to the development of nodules from new infections, but also from the release of arrested infections. It appears that in D. trinervis nodules there is an additional source for inhibition of new infections and nodule development that is independent of N-2 fixation and nitrogen assimilation. It is proposed here that the intercellular Frankia filaments commonly present in the D. trinervis nodule apex, is the origin for the autoregulatory signals that sustain the blockage of initiated nodule primordia and prevent new roots from infections. When turning to A. incana plants, it seems likely that this signal is related to the early autoregulation of nodulation in A. incana seedlings and is no longer present in mature nodules. Thus, actinorhizal symbioses belonging to relatively distant phylogenetic groups and displaying different infection pathways, show different feedback regulatory processes that control root nodulation by Frankia

Published in

Journal of Experimental Botany
2003, Volume: 54, number: 385, pages: 1253-1258

    SLU Authors

    • Huss-Danell, Kerstin

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Forest Science

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