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Evolution of root nodule symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria
Date:3/3/2008

the striking evidence that Parniske and his colleagues had been hoping for.

Our results reveal that an expansion of the functions of SYMRK constituted an important step in the evolution of intracellular nodule symbiosis, reports Parniske. Most plants have a short version of SMYRK, which is required for AM symbiosis. A longer variant of SMYRK was found only in plants involved in the symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Importantly, the longer version was found in both legumes (which form symbioses with rhizobia the textbook nitrogen-fixing symbiosis) and in actinorhiza (such as alder) which form symbiotic relationships with frankia bacteria, about which there is little genetic information. The results therefore suggest a common evolutionary origin of intracellular root symbioses with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

This work is an important step towards understanding the evolution of nitrogen-fixation in plants, and even whether plants that dont form symbioses with nitrogen-fixing bacteria could be engineered to do so, thus increasing their nutritional value.


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Contact: Natalie Bouaravong
press@plos.org
415-568-3445
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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