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Visualization of bioluminescence as a marker of gene expression in rhizobium-infected soybean root nodules

O'Kane, D.J., Lingle, W.L., Wampler, J.E., Legocki, M., Legocki, R.P., Szalay, A.A.
Plant molecular biology 1988 v.10 no.5 pp. 387-399
microscopy, Glycine max, recombinant DNA, luminescence, luciferase, root nodules, gene expression, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, gene fusion, reporter genes, Vibrio harveyi, nitrogenase, promoter regions
The linked structural genes lux A and lux B, encoding bacterial luciferase of a marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi, were fused with the nitrogenase nifD promoter from Bradyrhizobium japonicum and with the P1 promoter of pBR322. Both fusions were integrated into the B. japonicum chromosome by site-specific recombination. Soybean roots infected with the two types of rhizobium transconjugants formed nitrogen-fixing nodules that produced bright blue-green light. Cells containing the P1 promoter/lux AB fusion resulted in continuously expressed bioluminescence in both free-living rhizobium and in nodule bacteroids. However, when under control of the nifD promoter, luciferase activity was found only in nitrogen-fixing nodules. Light emission from bacteroids allowed us to visualize and to photograph nodules expressing this marker gene fusion in vivo at various levels of resolution, including within single, living plant cells. Localization of host cells containing nitrogen-fixing bacteroids within nodule tissue was accomplished using low-light video microscopy aided by real-time image processing techniques developed specifically to enhance extreme low-level luminescent images.