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J Exp Bot. 2000 May;51(346):885-94.

Ethylene is involved in the nodulation phenotype of Pisum sativum R50 (sym 16), a pleiotropic mutant that nodulates poorly and has pale green leaves.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5. fguinel@wlu.ca


R50 is characterized as a pleiotropic pea mutant; it forms few nodules and has short lateral roots, short stature and pale leaves. Using grafting techniques, R50 paleness was found to be controlled by the shoot of the mutant whereas the nodulation phenotype was regulated by its root. The paleness of R50 is due to a lower than normal total chlorophyll content in its young leaves. The defect appears to be overcome with age because, as the plant matures, the chlorophyll levels increase in the older leaves. The reduction in stature is attributed to shorter internodes, and the oldest internodes are thicker than those of the parent Sparkle. Upon rhizobial inoculation, R50 forms as many infection threads as Sparkle. However, most of these are arrested in the inner cortex. The threads appear to have lost their directional growth towards the stele, and they coil around within enlarged cortical cells. In addition, very few infection threads are associated with divisions of the inner cortical cells. These aborted nodule primordia are abnormal, flat and mainly composed of cells which have divided anticlinally only. Nodulation of R50 was restored by treating the roots with ethylene inhibitors. The R50 mutant further supports the postulated role of ethylene in regulating rhizobial infection with a probable role in the control of the primordium development.

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