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J Biol Chem. 2004 Aug 13;279(33):34624-30. Epub 2004 May 24.

The galactolipid digalactosyldiacylglycerol accumulates in the peribacteroid membrane of nitrogen-fixing nodules of soybean and Lotus.

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Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Am Mühlenberg 1, 14476 Golm, Germany.


The peribacteroid membrane (PBM) surrounding nitrogen fixing rhizobia in the nodules of legumes is crucial for the exchange of ammonium and nutrients between the bacteria and the host cell. Digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG), a galactolipid abundant in chloroplasts, was detected in the PBM of soybean (Glycine max) and Lotus japonicus. Analyses of membrane marker proteins and of fatty acid composition confirmed that DGDG represents an authentic PBM lipid of plant origin and is not derived from the bacteria or from plastid contamination. In Arabidopsis, DGDG is known to accumulate in extraplastidic membranes during phosphate deprivation. However, the presence of DGDG in soybean PBM was not restricted to phosphate limiting conditions. Complementary DNA sequences corresponding to the two DGDG synthases, DGD1 and DGD2 from Arabidopsis, were isolated from soybean and Lotus. The two genes were expressed during later stages of nodule development in infected cells and in cortical tissue. Because nodule development depends on the presence of high amounts of phosphate in the growth medium, the accumulation of the non-phosphorus galactolipid DGDG in the PBM might be important to save phosphate for other essential processes, i.e. nucleic acid synthesis in bacteroids and host cells.

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