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Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

UMR INRA - Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis - Cnrs

Journal of Experimental Botany

04 March 2015

Journal of Experimental Botany
© Oxford University Press
Nitric oxide: a multifaceted regulator of the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis


The specific interaction between legumes and Rhizobium-type bacteria leads to the establishment of a symbiotic relationship characterized by the formation of new differentiated organs named nodules, which provide a niche for bacterial nitrogen (N2) fixation. In the nodules, bacteria differentiate into bacteroids with the ability to fix atmospheric N2 via nitrogenase activity. As nitrogenase is strongly inhibited by oxygen, N2 fixation is made possible by the microaerophilic conditions prevailing in the nodules. Increasing evidence has shown the presence of NO during symbiosis, from early interaction steps between the plant and the bacterial partners to N2-fixing and senescence steps in mature nodules. Both the plant and the bacterial partners participate in NO synthesis. NO was found to be required for the optimal establishment of the symbiotic interaction. Transcriptomic analysis at an early stage of the symbiosis showed that NO is potentially involved in the repression of plant defence reactions, favouring the establishment of the plant-microbe interaction. In mature nodules, NO was shown to inhibit N2 fixation, but it was also demonstrated to have a regulatory role in nitrogen metabolism, to play a beneficial metabolic function for the maintenance of the energy status under hypoxic conditions, and to trigger nodule senescence. The present review provides an overview of NO sources and multifaceted effects from the early steps of the interaction to the senescence of the nodule, and presents several approaches which appear to be particularly promising in deciphering the roles of NO in N2-fixing symbioses.


  • Hypoxia, Rhizobium, legume, nitric oxide, nitrogen fixation, symbiosis

Hichri, I., Boscari, A., Castella, C., Rovere, M., Puppo, A., and Brouquisse, R. (2015). Nitric oxide: a multifaceted regulator of the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. J. Exp. Bot. erv051. DOI:10.1093/jxb/erv051

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