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Trends Plant Sci. 2008 Mar;13(3):115-20. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Cytokinin: secret agent of symbiosis.

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Institut des Sciences du Végétal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 91198 Gif sur Yvette cedex, France.


The symbiotic interaction between Rhizobium bacteria and legumes leads to the induction of a new root organ: the nitrogen-fixing nodule. Recent findings have uncovered that cytokinin is instrumental in this developmental process, but they also suggest a broader role for cytokinin in mediating rhizobial infection. In this opinion article, we propose that cytokinin is the key differentiation signal for nodule organogenesis. Furthermore, we discuss a model in which cytokinin might also influence bacterial infection by controlling the expression of NIN (Nodule Inception) and other transcriptional regulators through mechanisms operating both locally and systemically.

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