Cytokinin biosynthesis promotes cortical cell responses during nodule development

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Legume mutants have shown the requirement for receptor-mediated cytokinin signalling in symbiotic nodule organogenesis. While the receptors are central regulators, cytokinin is also accumulated during early phases of symbiotic interaction but the pathways involved have not yet been fully resolved. To identify the source, timing and effect of this accumulation, we followed transcript levels of the cytokinin biosynthetic pathway genes in a sliding developmental zone of Lotus japonicus roots. LjIpt2 and LjLog4 were identified as the major contributors to the first cytokinin burst. The genetic dependence and Nod factor (NF) responsiveness of these genes confirms that cytokinin biosynthesis is a key target of the common symbiosis pathway. Accumulation of LjIpt2 and LjLog4 transcripts occurs independent of the LjLhk1 receptor during nodulation. Together with the rapid repression of both genes by cytokinin, this indicates that LjIpt2 and LjLog4 contribute to, rather than respond to, the initial cytokinin build-up. Analysis of cytokinin response using the synthetic cytokinin sensor, TCSn, showed that this response occurs in cortical cells before spreading to the epidermis in L. japonicus. While mutant analysis identified redundancy in several biosynthesis families, we found that mutation of LjIpt4 limits nodule numbers. Overexpression of LjIpt3 or LjLog4 alone was insufficient to produce robust formation of spontaneous nodules. In contrast, overexpressing a complete cytokinin biosynthesis pathway leads to large, often fused spontaneous nodules. These results show the importance of cytokinin biosynthesis in initiating and balancing the requirement for cortical cell activation without uncontrolled cell proliferation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Physiology
Volume175
Issue1
Pages (from-to)361-375
Number of pages15
ISSN0032-0889
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

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  • Journal Article

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