, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 841-852

Inoculation of Vicia sativa subsp. nigra roots with Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae results in release of nod gene activating flavanones and chalcones

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Flavonoids released by roots of Vicia sativa subsp. nigra (V. sativa) activate nodulation genes of the homologous bacterium Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae (R. l. viciae). Inoculation of V. sativa roots with infective R. l. viciae bacteria largely increases the nod gene-inducing ability of V. sativa root exudate (A.A.N. van Brussel et al., J Bact 172: 5394–5401). The present study showed that, in contrast to sterile roots and roots inoculated with R. l. viciae cured of its Sym plasmid, roots inoculated with R. l. viciae harboring its Sym plasmid released additional nod gene-inducing flavonoids. Using 1H-NMR, the structures of the major inducers released by inoculated roots, 6 flavanones and 2 chalcones, were elucidated. Roots extracts of (un)inoculated V. sativa contain 4 major non-inducing, most likely glycosylated, flavonoids. Therefore, the released flavonoids may either derive from the root flavonoids or inoculation with R. l. viciae activates de novo flavonoid biosynthesis.