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Liang, Juan; Klingl, Andreas; Lin, Yen-Yu; Boul, Emily; Thomas-Oates, Jane and Marin, Macarena (2019): A subcompatible rhizobium strain reveals infection duality in Lotus. In: Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 70, No. 6: pp. 1903-1913

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In the rhizosphere, legumes encounter mixed rhizobial communities. Lotus species exhibit dual infection mechanisms depending on the rhizobial strain that they encounter. Abstract Lotus species develop infection threads to guide rhizobia into nodule cells. However, there is evidence that some species have a genetic repertoire to allow other modes of infection. By conducting confocal and electron microscopy, quantification of marker gene expression, and phenotypic analysis of transgenic roots infected with mutant rhizobia, we elucidated the infection mechanism used by Rhizobium leguminosarum Norway to colonize Lotus burttii. Rhizobium leguminosarum Norway induces a distinct host transcriptional response compared with Mesorhizobium loti. It infects L. burttii utilizing an epidermal and transcellular infection thread-independent mechanism at high frequency. The entry into plant cells occurs directly from the apoplast and is primarily mediated by peg'-like structures, the formation of which is dependent on the production of Nod factor by the rhizobia. These results demonstrate that Lotus species can exhibit duality in their infection mechanisms depending on the rhizobial strain that they encounter. This is especially relevant in the context of interactions in the rhizosphere where legumes do not encounter single strains, but complex rhizobial communities. Additionally, our findings support a perception mechanism at the nodule cell entry interface, reinforcing the idea that there are successive checkpoints during rhizobial infection.

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