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Microbiol Rev. 1995 Mar;59(1):124-42.

The Rhizobium-plant symbiosis.

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  • 1F.A. Janssens Laboratory of Genetics, KU Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium.


Rhizobium, Bradyrhizobium, and Azorhizobium species are able to elicit the formation of unique structures, called nodules, on the roots or stems of the leguminous host. In these nodules, the rhizobia convert atmospheric N2 into ammonia for the plant. To establish this symbiosis, signals are produced early in the interaction between plant and rhizobia and they elicit discrete responses by the two symbiotic partners. First, transcription of the bacterial nodulation (nod) genes is under control of the NodD regulatory protein, which is activated by specific plant signals, flavonoids, present in the root exudates. In return, the nod-encoded enzymes are involved in the synthesis and excretion of specific lipooligosaccharides, which are able to trigger on the host plant the organogenic program leading to the formation of nodules. An overview of the organization, regulation, and function of the nod genes and their participation in the determination of the host specificity is presented.

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