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Keywords:

  • symbiosis;
  • Rhizobium;
  • Nod factor;
  • signal transduction;
  • calcium

Summary

Establishment of the Rhizobium–legume symbiosis depends on a molecular dialogue, in which rhizobial nodulation (Nod) factors act as symbiotic signals, playing a key role in the control of specificity of infection and nodule formation. Using nodulation-defective (Nod) mutants of Medicago truncatula to study the mechanisms controlling Nod factor perception and signalling, we have previously identified five genes that control components of a Nod factor-activated signal transduction pathway. Characterisation of a new M. truncatula Nod mutant led to the identification of the Nod Factor Perception (NFP) locus. The nfp mutant has a novel phenotype among Nod mutants of M. truncatula, as it does not respond to Nod factors by any of the responses tested. The nfp mutant thus shows no rapid calcium flux, the earliest detectable Nod factor response of wild-type plants, and no root hair deformation. The nfp mutant is also deficient in Nod factor-induced calcium spiking and early nodulin gene expression. While certain genes controlling Nod factor signal transduction also control the establishment of an arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, the nfp mutant shows a wild-type mycorrhizal phenotype. These data indicate that the NFP locus controls an early step of Nod factor signal transduction, upstream of previously identified genes and specific to nodulation.