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Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

UMR INRA - Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis - Cnrs

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Nov. 2014

27 November 2014

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
Redox regulation of differentiation in symbiotic nitrogen fixation



Nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between Rhizobium bacteria and legumes leads to the formation of a new organ, the root nodule. The development of the nodule requires the differentiation of plant root cells to welcome the endosymbiotic bacterial partner. This development includes the formation of an efficient vascular tissue which allows metabolic exchanges between the root and the nodule, the formation of a barrier to oxygen diffusion necessary for the bacterial nitrogenase activity and the enlargement of cells in the infection zone to support the large bacterial population. Inside the plant cell, the bacteria differentiate into bacteroids which are able to reduce atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia needed for plant growth in exchange for carbon sources. Nodule functioning requires a tight regulation of the development of plant cells and bacteria.

Scope of the review

Nodule functioning requires a tight regulation of the development of plant cells and bacteria. The importance of redox control in nodule development and N-fixation is discussed in this review. The involvement of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and the importance of the antioxidant defence are analysed.

Major conclusions

Plant and bacterial differentiation are controlled by reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, enzymes involved in the antioxidant defence and antioxidant compounds.

General significance

The establishment and functioning of nitrogen-fixing symbiosis involves a redox control important for both the plant-bacteria crosstalk and the consideration of environmental parameters. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Redox regulation of differentiation and de-differentiation.


  • nitrogen-fixing symbiosis; 
  • root nodules; 
  • reactive oxygen species; 
  • reactive nitrogen species;
  • (homo)glutathione; 
  • redox regulation.

Ribeiro, C.W., Alloing, G., Mandon, K., and Frendo, P. Redox regulation of differentiation in symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2014.11.018

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