Peter Mergaert,3 and
1Biological Research Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Temesvári krt. 62, 6726 Szeged, Hungary; 2Károly Róbert College, Mátrai út 36, Gyöngyös, Hungary; 3Institut des Sciences du Végétal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
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Accepted 4 August 2011.
Symbiosomes are organelle-like structures in the cytoplasm of legume nodule cells which are composed of the special, nitrogen-fixing forms of rhizobia called bacteroids, the peribacteroid space and the enveloping peribacteroid membrane of plant origin. The formation of these symbiosomes requires a complex and coordinated interaction between the two partners during all stages of nodule development as any failure in the differentiation of either symbiotic partner, the bacterium or the plant cell prevents the subsequent transcriptional and developmental steps resulting in early senescence of the nodules. Certain legume hosts impose irreversible terminal differentiation onto bacteria. In the inverted repeat–lacking clade (IRLC) of legumes, host dominance is achieved by nodule-specific cysteine-rich peptides that resemble defensin-like antimicrobial peptides, the known effector molecules of animal and plant innate immunity. This article provides an overview on the bacteroid and symbiosome development including the terminal differentiation of bacteria in IRLC legumes as well as the bacterial and plant genes and proteins participating in these processes.
© 2011 The American Phytopathological Society