Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 47–72 | Cite as

Signaling Interactions During Nodule Development

  • Brett James FergusonEmail author
  • Ulrike Mathesius
Thematic Article


Nitrogen fixing bacteria, collectively referred to as rhizobia, are able to trigger the organogenesis of a new organ on legumes, the nodule. The morphogenetic trigger is a Rhizobium-produced lipochitin-oligosaccharide called the Nod factor, which is necessary, and in some legumes sufficient, for triggering nodule development in the absence of the bacterium. Because plant development is substantially influenced by plant hormones, it has been hypothesized that plant hormones (mainly the classical hormones abscisic acid, auxin, cytokinins, ethylene and gibberellic acid) regulate nodule development. In recent years, evidence has shown that Nod factors might act in legumes by changing the internal plant hormone balance, thereby orchestrating the nodule developmental program. In addition, many nonclassical hormonal signals have been found to play a role in nodule development, some of them similar to signals involved in animal development. These compounds include peptide hormones, nitric oxide, reactive oxygen species, jasmonic acid, salicylic acid, uridine, flavonoids and Nod factors themselves. Environmental factors, in particular nitrate, also influence nodule development by affecting the plant hormone status. This review summarizes recent findings on the involvement of classical and nonclassical signals during nodule development with the aim of illustrating the multiple interactions existing between these compounds that have made this area so complicated to analyze.


Cell division Defence response Meristem Nod factors Nodulation Organogenesis Peptide signals Plant hormones Receptor kinase Systemic acquired resistance 



Due to the vast size of the topic, the authors have undoubtedly omitted some researchers’ work, for which we apologize. Financial support was provided to BJF by the Tasmanian International Research Scholarship and the Thomas Crawford Memorial Research Scholarship, both of the University of Tasmania, and to UM by the Australian Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Plant ScienceUniversity of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, Tasmania 7001Australia
  2. 2.School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and ARC Centre of Excellence For Integrative Legume ResearchAustralian National University, Linnaeus Way, Canberra ACT 0200Australia

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