A NIN-LIKE PROTEIN mediates nitrate-induced control of root nodule symbiosis in Lotus japonicus

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2018-02-05

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-02831-x

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 11

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Research Highlight

Rooting out plant responses

© Janine Lamontagne/E+/Getty

© Janine Lamontagne/E+/Getty

Legumes respond to nitrogen in their soil environment by putting the brakes on a symbiotic partnership with soil bacteria that helps produce more of the element.

A University of Tsukuba-led study revealed a key genetic pathway behind this response — a finding that could help enhance crop yield and reduce fertilizer use for those who want to breed soybeans and other commercially important legumes.

Tsukuba researchers raised the legume Lotus japonicas, a popular model plant for genome studies, in cabinets with a bacterium that invades the plant roots and forms bulb-like nodules. This bacterium then converts nitrogen from the air into a form usable by plants in exchange for energy from its legume host.

By exposing the plants to a chemical that modifies their DNA, the researchers pinpointed a mutant gene, NRSYM1, in which the nitrogen-fixing mechanism is defective. This gene, the authors showed, induces the production of a peptide that quells the formation of new root nodules when nitrogen is already abundant in the soil.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 9, 499 (2018) doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-02831-x
Institutions Share
University of Tsukuba, Japan 0.39
National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB), NINS, Japan 0.30
Tokyo University of Science (TUS), Japan 0.18
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai), Japan 0.12