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Plant Physiol. 2007 Dec;145(4):1600-18. Epub 2007 Oct 19.

Antisense repression of the Medicago truncatula nodule-enhanced sucrose synthase leads to a handicapped nitrogen fixation mirrored by specific alterations in the symbiotic transcriptome and metabolome.

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Institute for Genome Research and Systems Biology, Center for Biotechnology, Bielefeld University, D-33594 Bielefeld, Germany.


We analyzed the role of the sucrose (Suc) synthase MtSucS1 during nodulation of the model legume Medicago truncatula, integrating data for the developmental, transcriptional, and metabolic processes affected downstream of an impaired Suc cleavage in root nodules. To reduce carbohydrate supply to nodule tissues, transgenic plants expressing a p35S-driven MtSucS1-antisense fusion were constructed. These plants displayed an up to 90% reduction of MtSucS1 proteins in roots and nodules. Phenotypic studies of two independent MtSucS1-reduced lines demonstrated that only under conditions depending on nodulation, these plants appeared to be impaired in above-ground growth. Specifically plant height, shoot weight, leaf development, flowering, as well as seed maturation were reduced, and the efficiency of photosynthesis was affected. Concomitantly, a significantly enhanced root to shoot ratio with a marked increase in root tip numbers was observed. Root nodule formation was found retarded and the impaired nodulation was accompanied by a less efficient nitrogen (N) acquisition. The decreased total N content of MtSucS1-antisense lines and an enhanced carbon to N ratio in roots, nodules, and shoots correlated with the extent of MtSucS1 knockdown. On the level of transcription, effects of an MtSucS1 reduction were evident for genes representing important nodes of the nodule carbon and N metabolism, while metabolite profiling revealed significantly lower levels of amino acids and their derivatives particularly in strongly MtSucS1-reduced nodules. Our results support the model that nodule-enhanced Suc synthase 1 of the model legume M. truncatula is required for the establishment and maintenance of an efficient N-fixing symbiosis.

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