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Production of Sinorhizobium meliloti nod Gene Activator and Repressor Flavonoids from Medicago sativa Roots

August 1998 , Volume 11 , Number  8
Pages  784 - 794

José Angelo Silveira Zuanazzi , 1 , 2 Pierre Henri Clergeot , 1 Jean-Charles Quirion , 2 Henri-Philippe Husson , 2 Adam Kondorosi , 1 , 3 and Pascal Ratet 1

1Institut des Sciences Végétales and 2Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Avenue de la Terrasse, F-91198 Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France; and 3Institute of Genetics, Biological Research Center, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Szeged, P.O. Box 521, H-6701 Hungary

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Accepted 5 May 1998.

During symbiosis between leguminous plants and rhizobia, flavonoids exuded by the plants act as chemoattractants and nodulation (nod) gene regulators in the other partner. To better understand the role of these compounds during the early steps of the alfalfa-Sinorhizobium meliloti symbiosis and the regulation of their production we have isolated nod gene inducers from alfalfa roots. All the compounds that we identified in this study as nod gene inducers in the root are flavonoids, indicating that other compounds with nod gene activator capacity may have little contribution, if any, to nod gene activation. Most of the intermediates of the flavonoid pathway were found in Medicago sativa roots and nodules, but only end products of the flavonoid pathway were identified in the root exudate. We have also studied flavonoid production in different parts of the root and found that it is developmentally regulated during root growth. Finally, we have shown that coumestrol and medicarpin, present in the exudates and previously described as phytoalexins, possess nod gene repressing activity, indicating that the in vivo nod gene inducing activity of the root exudate results from positive as well as negative controls of nod gene expression by the flavonoids.

Additional keywords: daidzein, 7,4′-dihydroxyflavone, formononetin, isoliquiritigenin, liquiritigenin, 2′-methoxy-isoliquiritigenin.

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society