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Planta. 1992 Jun;187(3):295-300. doi: 10.1007/BF00195651.

Chitinase and peroxidase in effective (fix(+)) and ineffective (fix (-)) soybean nodules.

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Botanisches Institut der Universität Basel, Hebelstrasse 1, CH-4056, Basel, Switzerland.


Chitinase and peroxidase, two enzymes thought to be involved in the defense of plants against pathogens, were measured in soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) roots and in nodules colonized by Bradyrhizobium japonicum strains differing in their symbiotic potential. Activities of both enzymes were higher in nodules than in roots. In "effective", nitrogen-fixing nodules, colonized by wild-type bacteria, chitinase and peroxidase activities had low levels in the central infected zone and were enhanced primarily in the nodule cortex. An ascorbate-specific peroxidase, possibly involved in radical scavenging, had similarly high activities in the infected zone and in the cortex. "Ineffective" nodules colonized by bacteria unable to fix nitrogen symbiotically showed a similar distribution of chitinase and peroxidase. In another type of "ineffective" nodule, colonized by a B. japonicum strain eliciting a hypersensitive response, activities of both enzymes were enhanced to a similar degree in the infected zone as well as in the cortex. Tissue prints using a direct assay for peroxidase and an antiserum against bean chitinase corroborated these results. The antiserum against bean chitinase cross-reacted with a nodule protein of Mr 32 000; it inhibited most of the chitinase activity in the nodules but barely affected the chitinase in uninfected roots. It is concluded that proteins characteristic of the defense reaction accumulate in the cortex of nodules independently of their ability to fix nitrogen, and in the entire body of hypersensitively reacting nodules.


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