Involvement of programmed cell death in suppression of the number of root nodules formed in soybean induced by <i>Bradyrhizobium</i> infection

<p>Legumes establish symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing rhizobia through root nodules to acquire nitrogen. Legumes control nodule number through systemic (autoregulation of nodulation) as well as local regulation. Moreover, plants defend themselves against bacteria and other pathogens through the induction of localized (localized acquired resistance) and systemic (SAR, systemic acquired resistance; ISR, induced systemic resistance) responses. Herein, we show that the number of root nodules is suppressed by programmed cell death (PCD), and is simultaneously controlled by SAR and ISR in soybean (<i>Glycine max</i> [L.] Merr.). The wild-type soybean cultivar Williams 82 showed markedly fewer root nodule primordia and PCD symptoms, including accelerated DNA degradation, enhanced generation of reactive oxygen species (visualized by 3,3′-diaminobenzidine staining), and excessive cell death (detected on staining with trypan blue) compared to the hypernodulation mutant NOD1-3. These results suggest that PCD suppresses the formation of root nodules in wild-type soybean. In addition, microarray and gene ontology analyses showed that essential components of hypersensitive response (HR) or disease resistance, such as resistance (R) genes, mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade, SAR, salicylic acid, jasmonic acid, ethylene, etc., were activated in wild-type plants. These analyses corroborate the above findings, demonstrating that the suppression of root nodule formation by PCD is accompanied by HR, and is simultaneously controlled by SAR and ISR in soybean. These findings provide new insight into the control of nodulation to balance nutritional requirements and energy status in legumes.</p>