Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 64, 2333 AL Leiden, The Netherlands
In the symbiosis of leguminous plants and Rhizobium bacteria, nodule primordia develop in the root cortex. This can be either in the inner cortex (indeterminate-type of nodulation) or outer cortex (determinate-type of nodulation), depending upon the host plant. We studied and compared early nodulation stages in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and Lotus japonicus, both known as determinate-type nodulation plants. Special attention was paid to the occurrence of cytoplasmic bridges, the influence of rhizobial Nod factors (lipochitin oligosaccharides [LCOs]) on this phenomenon, and sensitivity of the nodulation process to ethylene. Our results show that i) both plant species form initially broad, matrix-rich infection threads; ii) cytoplasmic bridges occur in L. japonicus but not in bean; iii) formation of these bridges is induced by rhizobial LCOs; iv) formation of primordia starts in L. japonicus in the middle root cortex and in bean in the outer root cortex; and v) in the presence of the ethylenebiosynthesis inhibitor aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG), nodulation of L. japonicus is stimulated when the roots are grown in the light, which is consistent with the role of cytoplasmic bridges during nodulation of L. japonicus.