Two Negative Regulatory Systems of Root Nodule Symbiosis: How Are Symbiotic Benefits and Costs Balanced?

Plant Cell Physiol. 2018 Sep 1;59(9):1733-1738. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcy102.


Root nodule symbiosis is one of the best characterized mutualistic relationships of plant-microbe symbiosis, where mainly leguminous species can obtain nitrogen sources fixed by nitrogen-fixing rhizobia through the formation of symbiotic organ root nodules. In order to drive this symbiotic process, plants need to provide carbon sources that should be used for their growth. Therefore, a balance between the benefits of obtaining nitrogen sources and the costs of losing carbon sources needs to be maintained during root nodule symbiosis. Plants have developed at least two negative regulatory systems of root nodule symbiosis. One strategy involves the regulation of nodule number in response to rhizobial infection. For this regulation, a systemic long-range signaling between roots and shoots called autoregulation of nodulation has a pivotal role. Another strategy involves the regulation of root nodule symbiosis in response to nitrate, the most abundant form of nitrogen nutrients in the soil. Recent studies indicate that long-distance signaling is shared between the two strategies, where NIN and NRSYM1, two paralogous RWP-RK transcription factors, can activate the production of nodulation-related CLE peptides in response to different inputs. Here, we provide an overview of such progress in our understanding of molecular mechanisms relevant to the control of the symbiotic balance, including their biological significance.

Keywords: CLE; Legume; Nitrate; Nodulation; Symbiosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fabaceae / microbiology
  • Fabaceae / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology*
  • Plant Root Nodulation / physiology*
  • Rhizobium / physiology
  • Root Nodules, Plant / microbiology*
  • Root Nodules, Plant / physiology*
  • Symbiosis / physiology*