A plant flavone, luteolin, induces expression of Rhizobium meliloti nodulation genes

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  29 Aug 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4767, pp. 977-980
DOI: 10.1126/science.3738520


The symbiotic interaction of Rhizobium meliloti and alfalfa results in the formation of nitrogen-fixing root nodules. Rhizobium meliloti nodABC genes are required for the early host responses of cortical cell divisions and root hair curling. The induction of nodABC expression by alfalfa exudates demonstrates host-symbiont signaling at an early stage in nodule development. The inducer molecule for nodABC expression was isolated from plant exudate by constructing a nodABC-lacZ fusion to monitor the inducing activity. From ultraviolet-visible absorption spectra, proton nuclear magnetic resonance, and mass spectrometry, the inducer was determined to be 3',4', 5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone (luteolin). Luteolin is a normal secondary plant metabolite found throughout the plant kingdom that may serve to control nodABC expression during nodule development. This regulatory role for a flavone contrasts with the function of some flavonoids as defense compounds.

Stay Connected to Science