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Perception of Rhizobium nodulation factors by tomato cells and inactivation by root chitinases

Staehelin, C., Granado, J., Muller, J., Wiemken, A., Mellor, R.B., Felix, G., Regenass, M., Broughton, W.J., Boller, T.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1994 v.91 no.6 pp. 2196-2200
Solanum lycopersicum var. lycopersicum, Rhizobium leguminosarum, Rhizobium, Rhizobium phaseoli, Sinorhizobium meliloti, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, oligosaccharides, alkalinity, cell suspension culture, hydrolysis, chitinase, roots
The bacterial genera Rhizobium and Bradyrhizobium, nitrogen-fixing symbionts of legumes, secrete specific lipo-chitooligosaccharides that induce the formation of nodules on their host plants. When preparations of such nodulation-inducing factors (Nod factors) were added to suspension-cultured tomato cells, a rapid and transient alkalinization of the culture medium occurred. Lipo-oligosaccharide preparations from Rhizobium or Bradyrhizobium treated with flavonoids, known inducers of Nod factor synthesis, were up to 100 times more potent in inducing alkalinization than the ones from untreated bacteria. The activity was absent from preparations of the mutant strain Rhizobium sp. NGR234 delta nodABC, unable to produce any Nod factors. Preparations of Nod factors from various bacteria as well as individual, highly purified Nod factors from Rhizobium sp. NGR(pA28) induced alkalinization in the tomato cell cultures at nanomolar concentrations. This demonstrates that Nod factors can be perceived by tomato, a nonhost of rhizobia. Using the alkalinization response as a sensitive bioassay, Nod factors were found to be inactivated by plant chitinases. Root chitinases purified from different legumes differed in their potential to inactivate differently substituted Nod factors produced by Rhizobium sp. NGR(pA28). This indicates that the specificity of the bacterium-host plant interaction may be due, at least in part, to differential inactivation of Nod factors by root chitinases.