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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Feb; 86(4): 1244–1248.
PMCID: PMC286664

Early nodulin genes are induced in alfalfa root outgrowths elicited by auxin transport inhibitors


Rhizobium nod genes are essential for root hair deformation and cortical cell division, early stages in the development of nitrogen-fixing root nodules. Nod- mutants are unable to initiate nodules on legume roots. We observed that N-(1-naphthyl)phthalamic acid and 2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid, compounds known to function as auxin transport inhibitors, induced nodule-like structures on alfalfa roots. The nodule-like structures (pseudonodules) were white, devoid of bacteria, and resembled nodules elicited by Rhizobium meliloti exopolysaccharide (exo) mutants at both the histological and molecular level. Two nodulin genes, ENOD2 and Nms-30, were expressed. RNA isolated from the nodule-like structures hybridized to pGmENOD2, a soybean early nodulin cDNA clone. RNA isolated from roots did not hybridize. We determined by in vitro translations of total RNA that the alfalfa nodulin transcript Nms-30 was also expressed in the nodule-like structures. The late expressed nodulin genes, such as the leghemoglobin genes, were not transcribed. Because N-(1-naphthyl)phthalamic acid and 2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid induce the development of nodules on alfalfa roots, we suggest that the auxin transport inhibitors mimic the activity of compound(s) made upon the induction of the Rhizobium nod genes.

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