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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Plant Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #358735

Research Project: Gene Discovery and Designing Soybeans for Food, Feed, and Industrial Applications

Location: Plant Genetics Research

Title: Classical soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr) symbionts, Sinorhizobium fredii USDA191 and Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens USDA110, reveal contrasting symbiotic phenotype on pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp)

item ALASWAD, ALAA - University Of Missouri
item Oehrle, Nathan
item Krishnan, Hari

Submitted to: International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/26/2019
Publication Date: 3/3/2019
Publication URL:
Citation: Alaswad, A.A., Oehrle, N.W., Krishnan, H.B. 2019. Classical soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr) symbionts, Sinorhizobium fredii USDA191 and Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens USDA110, reveal contrasting symbiotic phenotype on pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp). International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 20(5):1091.

Interpretive Summary: Legumes are an inexpensive source of highly nutritious and well-balanced dietary protein. Pigeon pea, an important legume grown in semi-arid agricultural regions, interacts with some soil-dwelling bacteria (collectively called as rhizobia) resulting in formation of nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots. Nodules are a specialized plant organ where atmospheric nitrogen is reduced to ammonia by the bacterial encoded enzyme nitrogenase. This process is termed biological nitrogen fixation and contributes significantly to the overall nitrogen requirements of growing plants. In spite of its importance, the symbiotic interaction of pigeon pea with rhizobia has not been extensively investigated. In this study, we have conducted an in-depth study on the nodulation response of pigeon pea to two classical soybean symbionts. The results of our study reveal that a mutant rhizobia had superior ability to form nitrogen-fixing nodules on pigeon pea. Information obtained from this study will help scientists to better understand the factors that limit the formation of nitrogen-fixing nodules on legumes. Such an understanding should enable scientists to manipulate biological nitrogen fixation so that US farmers can increase yields with minimal use of nitrogen fertilizers.

Technical Abstract: Pigeon pea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millspaugh] is cultivated widely in semi-arid agricultural regions in over 90 countries around the world. This important legume can enter into symbiotic associations with a wide range of rhizobia including Bradyrhizobium and fast-growing rhizobia. In comparison with other major legumes such as soybean and common bean, only limited information is available on the symbiotic interaction of pigeon pea with rhizobia. In this study, we investigated the ability of two classical soybean symbionts, S. fredii USDA191 and B. japonicum USDA110 and their type 3 secretion system (T3SS) mutants, to nodulate pigeon pea. Both S. fredii USDA191 and a T3SS mutant S. fredii RCB26 formed nitrogen-fixing nodules on pigeon pea. Inoculation of pigeon pea roots with B. japonicum USDA110 and B. japonicum '136 (a T3SS mutant) resulted in the formation of Fix- and Fix+ nodules, respectively. Light and transmission electron microscopy of Fix- nodules initiated by B. japonicum USDA110 revealed the complete absence of rhizobia within these nodules. In contrast, Fix+ nodules formed by B. japonicum '136 revealed a central region that was completely filled with rhizobia. Ultrastructural investigation revealed the presence of numerous bacteroids surrounded by peribacteroid membranes in the infected cells. Analysis of nodule proteins by one and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed that leghemoglobin was absent in B. japonicum USDA110 nodules, while it was abundantly present in B. japonicum '136 nodules. Results of competitive nodulation assays indicated that B. japonicum '136 had greater competitiveness for nodulation on pigeon pea than did the wild-type strain. Our results suggest that this T3SS mutant of B. japonicum, due to its greater competitiveness and ability to form Fix+ nodules, could be exploited as an inoculant to boost pigeon pea productivity.