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Plant Physiol. 1996 Apr;110(4):1249-1256.

Effects of Boron on Rhizobium-Legume Cell-Surface Interactions and Nodule Development.

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  • 1Departamento de Biologia, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain (L.B., I.B.).


Boron (B) is an essential micronutrient for the development of nitrogen-fixing root nodules in pea (Pisum sativum). By using monoclonal antibodies that recognize specific glycoconjugate components implicated in legume root-nodule development, we investigated the effects of low B on the formation of infection threads and the colonization of pea nodules by Rhizobium leguminosarum bv viciae. In B-deficient nodules the proportion of infected host cells was much lower than in nodules from plants supplied with normal quantities of B. Moreover, the host cells often developed enlarged and abnormally shaped infection threads that frequently burst, releasing bacteria into damaged host cells. There was also an over-production of plant matrix material in which the rhizobial cells were embedded during their progression through the infection thread. Furthermore, in a series of in vitro binding studies, we demonstrated that the presence of B can change the affinity with which the bacterial cell surface interacts with the peribacteroid membrane glycocalyx relative to its interaction with intercellular plant matrix glycoprotein. From these observations we suggest that B plays an important role in mediating cell-surface interactions that lead to endocytosis of rhizobia by host cells and hence to the correct establishment of the symbiosis between pea and Rhizobium.

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