Root nodule anatomy, type of export product and evolutionary origin in some Leguminosae


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Dr J. I. Sprent, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN.


Abstract. The tribe Phaseoleae, of the sub-family Papi-lionoideae of the Leguminosae shows distinct differences from the tribes Vicieae and Trifolieae in nodule morphology and anatomy. Nodules of the Phaseoleae have determinate growth as, at maturity, the vascular strands fuse at the apex forming, effectively, a closed loop of the root stele. Nodules of the Vicieae and Trifolieae have an apical meristem, hence indeterminate growth; one or more branches of the root stele enter and dichotomise within the nodule, new elements are differentiated in relation to nodule growth, and the fine branches are free at the apical end of the nodule. Nodules of the Vicieae and Trifolieae additionally have vascular transfer cells and vacuolate infected cells, and the rhizobial bacteroids are pleomorphic.

The principal export products of nitrogen fixing nodules of the Phaseoleae are the ureides allantoin and allantoic acid, whilst those of the Vicieae and Trifolieae are amides and amino acids, especially glutamine and asparagine. The advantages and disadvantages of these export products are discussed in the light of nodular vascular anatomy and in respect of the tropical/subtropical origin of the Phaseoleae and the temperate origin of the Vicieae and Trifolieae.