Induction of Pre-Infection Thread Structures in the Leguminous Host Plant by Mitogenic Lipo-Oligosaccharides of Rhizobium

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Science  03 Jul 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5066, pp. 70-72
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5066.70


Root nodules of leguminous plants are symbiotic organs in which Rhizobium bacteria fix nitrogen. Their formation requires the induction of a nodule meristem and the formation of a tubular structure, the infection thread, through which the rhizobia reach the nodule primordium. In the Rhizobium host plants pea and vetch, pre-infection thread structures always preceded the formation of infection threads. These structures consisted of cytoplasmic bridges traversing the central vacuole of outer cortical root cells, aligned in radial rows. In vetch, the site of the infection thread was determined by the plant rather than by the invading rhizobia. Like nodule primordia, pre-infection thread structures could be induced in the absence of rhizobia provided that mitogenic lipo-oligosaccharides produced by Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae were added to the plant. In this case, cells in the two outer cortical cell layers containing cytoplasmic bridges may have formed root hairs. A common morphogenetic pathway may be shared in the formation of root hairs and infection threads.

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