Plant and Soil

, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 173–187 | Cite as

Host genetic control of symbiosis in soybean (Glycine max L.)

  • T. E. Devine
  • L. D. Kuykendall
Article

Abstract

Genes controlling nitrogen-fixing symbioses of legumes with specialized bacteria known as rhizobia are presumably the products of many millions of years of evolution. Different adaptative solutions evolved in response to the challenge of survival in highly divergent complexes of symbionts. Whereas efficiency of nitrogen fixation appears to be controlled by quantitative inheritance, genes controlling nodulation are qualitatively inherited. Genes controlling nodulation include those for non-nodulation, those that restrict certain microsymbionts, and those conditioning hypernodulation, or supernodulation. Some genes are naturally occurring polymorphisms, while others were induced or were the result of spontaneous mutations. The geographic patterns of particular alleles indicate the role of coevolution in determining symbiont specificites and compatibilities. For example, the Rj4 allele occurs with higher frequency (over 50%) among the soybean (G. max) from Southeast Asia. DNA homology studies of strains of Bradyrhizobium that nodulate soybean indicated two groups so distinct as to warrant classification as two species. Strains producing rhizobitoxine-induced chlorosis occur only in Group II, now classified as B. elkanii. Unlike B. japonicum, B. elkanii strains are characterized by (1) the ability to nodulate the rj1 genotype, (2) the formation of nodule-like structures on peanut, (3) a relatively high degree of ex planta nitrogenase activity, (4) distinct extracellular polysaccharide composition, (5) distinct fatty acid composition, (6) distinct antibiotic resistance profiles, and (7) low DNA homology with B. japonicum. Analysis with soybean lines near isogenic for the Rj4 versus rj4 alleles indicated that the Rj4 allele excludes a high proportion of B. elkanii strains and certain strains of B. japonicum such as strain USDA62 and three serogroup 123 strains. These groups, relatively inefficient in nitrogen fixation with soybean, tend to predominate in soybean nodules from many US soils. The Rj4 allele, the most common allelic form in the wild species, has a positive value for the host plants in protecting them from nodulation by rhizobia poorly adapted for symbiosis.

Key words

Bradyrhizobium legumes nitrogen fixation Nod Factors nodulation Rhizobium 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. E. Devine
    • 1
    • 2
  • L. D. Kuykendall
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Plant Molecular Biology LaboratoryUSDA, ARSBeltsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Soybean and Alfalfa Research LaboratoryUSDA, ARSBeltsvilleUSA

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