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J Plant Physiol. 2008 Apr 18;165(6):641-50. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Growth and nitrogen fixation in Lotus japonicus and Medicago truncatula under NaCl stress: nodule carbon metabolism.

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Departamento de Fisiología Vegetal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Campus de Fuentenueva s/n, Granada, Spain.


Lotus japonicus and Medicago truncatula model legumes, which form determined and indeterminate nodules, respectively, provide a convenient system to study plant-Rhizobium interaction and to establish differences between the two types of nodules under salt stress conditions. We examined the effects of 25 and 50mM NaCl doses on growth and nitrogen fixation parameters, as well as carbohydrate content and carbon metabolism of M. truncatula and L. japonicus nodules. The leghemoglobin (Lb) content and nitrogen fixation rate (NFR) were approximately 10.0 and 2.0 times higher, respectively, in nodules of L. japonicus when compared with M. truncatula. Plant growth parameters and nitrogenase activity decreased with NaCl treatments in both legumes. Sucrose was the predominant sugar quantified in nodules of both legumes, showing a decrease in concentration in response to salt stress. The content of trehalose was low (less than 2.5% of total soluble sugars (TSS)) to act as an osmolyte in nodules, despite its concentration being increased under saline conditions. Nodule enzyme activities of trehalose-6-phosphate synthase (TPS) and trehalase (TRE) decreased with salinity. L. japonicus nodule carbon metabolism proved to be less sensitive to salinity than in M. truncatula, as enzymatic activities responsible for the carbon supply to the bacteroids to fuel nitrogen fixation, such as sucrose synthase (SS), alkaline invertase (AI), malate dehydrogenase (MDH) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC), were less affected by salt than the corresponding activities in barrel medics. However, nitrogenase activity was only inhibited by salinity in L. japonicus nodules.

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