Cell-specific pathways recruited for symbiotic nodulation in the Medicago truncatula legume

Mol Plant. 2022 Dec 5;15(12):1868-1888. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2022.10.021. Epub 2022 Nov 1.


Medicago truncatula is a model legume species that has been studied for decades to understand the symbiotic relationship between legumes and soil bacteria collectively named rhizobia. This symbiosis called nodulation is initiated in roots with the infection of root hair cells by the bacteria, as well as the initiation of nodule primordia from root cortical, endodermal, and pericycle cells, leading to the development of a new root organ, the nodule, where bacteria fix and assimilate the atmospheric dinitrogen for the benefit of the plant. Here, we report the isolation and use of the nuclei from mock and rhizobia-inoculated roots for the single nuclei RNA-seq (sNucRNA-seq) profiling to gain a deeper understanding of early responses to rhizobial infection in Medicago roots. A gene expression map of the Medicago root was generated, comprising 25 clusters, which were annotated as specific cell types using 119 Medicago marker genes and orthologs to Arabidopsis cell-type marker genes. A focus on root hair, cortex, endodermis, and pericycle cell types, showing the strongest differential regulation in response to a short-term (48 h) rhizobium inoculation, revealed not only known genes and functional pathways, validating the sNucRNA-seq approach, but also numerous novel genes and pathways, allowing a comprehensive analysis of early root symbiotic responses at a cell type-specific level.

Keywords: Medicago root; cortical cells; nodule initiation; rhizobium; root hair cells; single-cell transcriptomic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Medicago truncatula* / genetics