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Planta. 2003 Jan;216(3):437-45. Epub 2002 Nov 15.

A host-specific bacteria-to-plant signal molecule (Nod factor) enhances germination and early growth of diverse crop plants.

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  • 1Plant Science Department, Macdonald Campus, McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, H9X 3V9, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Planta. 2003 Mar;216(5):890. Kahn, WM [corrected to Khan, WM].


Lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCOs), or Nod factors, are host-specific bacteria-to-plant signal molecules essential for the establishment of a successful N(2)-fixing legume-rhizobia symbiosis. At submicromolar concentrations Nod factors induce physiological changes in host and non-host plants. Here we show that the Nod factor Nod Bj V(C18:1,MeFuc) of Bradyrhizobium japonicum 532C enhances germination of a variety of economically important plants belonging to diverse botanical families: Zea mays, Oryza sativa (Poaceae), Beta vulgaris (Chenopodaceae), Glycine max, Phaseolus vulgaris (Fabaceae), and Gossypium hirsutum (Malvaceae), under laboratory, greenhouse and field conditions. Similar increases in germination were observed for filtrates of genistein-induced cultures of B. japonicum 532C, while non-induced B. japonicum, induced Bj 168 (a nodC mutant of B. japonicum deficient in Nod factor synthesis) or the pentamer of chitin did not invoke such responses, demonstrating the role of Nod factor in the observed effects. In addition, three out of four synthetic LCOs evaluated also promoted germination of corn, soybean and Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. LCO also enhanced the early growth of corn seedlings under greenhouse conditions. These findings suggest the possible use of LCOs for improved crop production.

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