Institut des Sciences Végétales, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UPR40, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, CEDEX France
The understanding of how leguminous plants establish symbiosis with rhizobia is limited by the lack of genetic system in most legume plants. Here we propose a Medicago truncatula line suitable for genetic analysis of Medicago-Rhizobium meliloti symbiosis because of its high regeneration capacity and broad R. meliloti strain specificity. This line has been isolated by extensive in vitro screening of explants from several ecotypes of M. truncatula that are known to be autogamous and have small diploid genomes. One such derivative identified from ecotype 108-1 has gained the capacity to be readily regenerated in vitro. The derivative, called R108-1, like its parent, can establish effective symbiosis with several widely studied R. meliloti strains (Rm41, Rm2011, Rm1021, F51, and GR4). Importantly, the nodulation characteristics of the R108-1 line were not compromised by the in vitro selection procedure. We have further established the conditions for efficient transformation of R108-1 by co-cultivation with Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Thus, this in vitro-derived plant line has most of the favorable attributes, otherwise rare among legumes, of a complementary model plant system for investigating symbiosis at the genetic and the molecular levels.