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Microaerobic respiration and oxidative phosphorylation by soybean nodule mitochondria: implications for nitrogen fixation

Millar, A.H., Day, D.A., Bergersen, F.J.
Plant, cell and environment 1995 v.18 no.7 pp. 715-726
Glycine max, root nodules, mitochondria, oxygen consumption, cytochrome-c oxidase, enzyme activity, oxygen, adenosine triphosphate, biosynthesis, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, nitrogen fixation, electron transport chain
The infected cells of soybean (Glycine max) root nodules require ATP production for ammonia assimilation and purine synthesis under microaerobic conditions. It is likely that the bulk of this demand is supplied through mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Mitochondria purified from root nodules respired and synthesized ATP in sub-micromolar oxygen concentrations as measured by leghaemoglobin spectroscopy and luciferase luminescence. Both oxygen uptake and the apparent ATP/O ratio declined significantly as the oxygen concentration fell below 100 pmol m-3. Cytochrome-pathway respiration by root nodule mitochondria had a higher apparent affinity for oxygen (Km 50 micromole m-3) than did mitochondria isolated from roots (Km 125 micromole m-3). Electron micrographs showed that mitochondria predominated at the periphery of infected cells adjacent to gas-filled intercellular spaces, where the oxygen concentration is predicted to be highest. Calculations of oxygen concentration and nitrogen fixation rates on an infected cell basis suggest that the measured rates of ATP production by isolated mitochondria are sufficient for the quantifiable in vivo requirements of ammonia assimilation and purine synthesis. The possible roles of mitochondrial respiration in the control of infected cell metabolism are also discussed.