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Insights into Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation in Medicago truncatula

March 2006 , Volume 19 , Number  3
Pages  330 - 341

Mesfin Tesfaye , 1 Deborah A. Samac , 1 , 2 and Carroll P. Vance 2 , 3

1Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, U.S.A.; 2United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service Plant Science Research Unit, St. Paul, MN 55108, U.S.A.; 3Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, U.S.A.

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Accepted 3 November 2005.

In silico analysis of the Medicago truncatula gene index release 8.0 at The Institute for Genomic Research identified approximately 530 tentative consensus sequences (TC) clustered from 2,700 expressed sequence tags (EST) derived solely from Sinorhizobium meliloti-inoculated root and nodule tissues. A great majority (76%) of these TC were derived exclusively from nitrogen-fixing and senescent nodules. A cDNA filter array was constructed using approximately 58% of the in silico-identified TC as well as cDNAs representing selected carbon and nitrogen metabolic pathways. The purpose of the array was to analyze transcript abundance in M. truncatula roots and nodules following inoculation by a wild-type S. meliloti strain, a mutant strain that forms ineffective nodules, an uninoculated root control, and roots following nitrate or ammonium treatments. In all, 81 cDNAs were upregulated in both effective and ineffective nodules, and 78% of these cDNAs represent in silico-identified TC. One group of in silico-identified TC encodes genes with similarity to putative plant disease resistance (R) genes of the nucleotide binding site-leucine-rich repeat type. Expression of R genes was enhanced in effective nodules, and transcripts also were detected in ineffective nodules at 14 days postinoculation (dpi). Homologous R gene sequences also have been identified in the Medicago genome. However, their functional importance in nodules remains to be established. Genes for enzymes involved in organic acid synthesis along with genes involved in nitrogen metabolism were shown to be coexpressed in nitrate-fed roots and effective nodules of M. truncatula.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2006