, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 201–226 | Cite as

Life in soil by the actinorhizal root nodule endophyte Frankia. A review

  • Eugenia E. Chaia
  • Luis G. Wall
  • Kerstin Huss-DanellEmail author


Frankia is a genus of soil actinomycetes famous for its ability to form N2-fixing root nodule symbioses with actinorhizal plants. Although Frankia strains display a high diversity in terms of ecological niches in soil, current knowledge about Frankia is dominated by its life as an endophyte in root nodules. Increased use of molecular methods has refined and expanded insights into endophyte-host specificities and Frankia phylogeny. This review has focus on Frankia as a soil organism, including its part of microbial consortia, and how to study Frankia in soil. We highlight the use of nodulation tests and molecular methods to reveal population size and genetic diversity of Frankia in soil and discuss how autoregulation of nodulation and interactions with other soil microorganisms may influence the results. A comprehensive record of published interactions between Frankia and other soil microbes is summarized.


Actinomycetes Frankia detection methods Frankia ecology N2 fixation Plant-microbe interaction Symbiosis 



genomic units


most probable number


nodulation capacity


nodulation test


nodulating units


polymerase chain reaction



The tripartite collaboration between the authors was financially supported by STINT, the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (grants to K Huss-Danell). Work by E Chaia was financially supported by Universidad Nacional del Comahue and by ANPCyT, the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica. L G Wall is member of the CONICET, the Argentine National Research Council, and has received grants from Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, CONICET and ANPCyT. We thank Osei Ampomah and Claudio Valverde for valuable comments on the manuscript and Shari Gregory for improving the English text.

This paper is dedicated to the memory of Antoon D L Akkermans (1940–2006) for his pioneering and always creative and inspiring work on Frankia and actinorhizal plants, ranging from ecosystems worldwide to physiology and molecular biology of Frankia and its symbioses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugenia E. Chaia
    • 1
  • Luis G. Wall
    • 2
  • Kerstin Huss-Danell
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro Regional Universitario BarilocheUniversidad Nacional del Comahue/INIBIOMABarilocheArgentina
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciencia y TecnologíaUniversidad Nacional de QuilmesBernalArgentina
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural Research for Northern SwedenSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden

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